Ippodo of Kyoto: Green Tea As It’s Meant to Be

Ippodo Tea House Sencha Green Kyoto Japan

There’s a misconception amongst many westerners, lingering like a bitter aftertaste, that green tea is by nature a sharp, astringent beverage. Perhaps that’s the result of too many cheap teabags or luke-warm, free thermos refills in down town restaurants.

But there’s a reason why millions of people around the world drink, and indeed become connoisseurs, of this stuff. When green tea is of good quality, brewed well and served with care, it has a smooth and sublime flavour.

Ippodo Tea House Shop Green Leaf Kyoto Japan

In the temple district of Kyoto (teramachidōri), not far from the old Imperial Palace, is an historic tea house, the Japanese equivalent of Mariage Freres. It’s called Ippodo and it has been selling fine quality teas since 1717, nearly 300 years. That’s an intimidating record, but I found the place to be welcoming and the staff were very accommodating of learners like myself. I didn’t have time to sit and imbibe a slow pot, sadly (because: toddlers). However, it is possible to buy small quantities and the staff helped me choose from the extensive list of options.

Pictured in loose leaf form, above, and once brewed according to the shop’s recommendations, below, is the Kaboku Ultra Premium Quality Sencha. You can see the uniformity of the size and colour in the leaves, and the clean yellow colour of the liquid. It was mild and grassy (in a good way) both to smell and to taste. There was no bitterness at all, even upon subsequent brewings of the same leaves. I highly recommend this as the most lovely sencha tea that I have enjoyed.

Ippodo Tea House Sencha Green Tea Cup Kyoto Japan

The good news, for those who seek to educate the tastebuds and discover new types of green tea: Ippodo has an online shop and ships internationally.

And the other good news is that green tea is meant to taste good.

(Oh! The only decent photo I got of Ippodo tea house features me; dusty and weary).

Ippodo Tea House Teramachi Kyoto Many Cha Cha

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3 thoughts on “Ippodo of Kyoto: Green Tea As It’s Meant to Be

  1. We find that a lot of people in the west have the same problem with green tea, and I too would like to blame it on low-quality tea bags that offer poor quality and generally bad-tasting green tea. “Maybe you have to grow up drinking it, like they do in Asia” some people say.

    This is by far a big misconception. There are beautiful green teas around that people attempt to avoid in favour of the safety of black tea. But, for those who try drinking anyway (usually for the health benefits), many discover great green teas that work for them, too.

    I think I shall have to try some of this tea house’s tea for myself. It sounds beautiful. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment! I agree that there are many good green teas around, and the other trick of course is to brew it properly to avoid bitterness. I really enjoy a good drop of sencha, and I do recommend giving Ippodo a go, it might be fun to buy tea on the internet 🙂

      • Welcome! And yes, that’s a very important point. People always need to be careful not to over-steep it, or… well, yes.

        Indeed it might! Hopefully I can have some good experiences with teas from all over the world – the shop our company runs out of can only stock so many varieties, even if it is still quite a lot.

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