Ippodo Tea Co., Tokyo

Marunouchi Store, between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace

Kokusai Bldg.

3-1-1 Marunouchi Naki-dori

Tokyo 100-005

Tel. +81 3 6212 0202

10am to 7pm (last call in the tearoom is at 6.00 pm)




The Tokyo address is more expensive than the one  in Kyoto, no doubt due to its location in upmarket Ginza with neighbours like Hermes and Tiffany’s! The décor is modern , and the place lacks the historic atmosphere of Kyoto, but it is still well worth the visit.

I was shocked to see two men at another table sipping from espresso cups, until I discovered that they contained matcha, prepared in the traditional wooden bowl then poured into coffee cups for a modern twist.



The Imperial Palace East Garden, near the Ippodo tearoom in Tokyo

Té Concepción

Shimogyo-ku, Takatsuki-cho 345

Opposite Higashi Hongan-ji Temple

Tel. 075 365 2100

Subway Kyoto Station


A tearoom that also serves food.


The vast temple hall at Higashi Hongan-ji

The largest wooden structure in the world

Kyo Club


On the 2nd floor at the Eastern end of the Nishiki food market

Head upstairs for bowl of matcha and some organic food overlooking the covered market. A great way to just sit and be as Kyotans fill their baskets with mystifying foodstuffs, ranging from dried fish to fresh chestnuts and pickled vegetables. Next to the Aritsugu knife shop.

Looking down at Nishiki market

Aritsugu knife shop

Nishikikoji-dori, at the Eastern end of the market


One of the sales assistants speaks excellent English and will guide you in your choice. They can stamp your name on the knife, in English or Japanese, and will teach you how to clean it and care for it with the tender loving care deserved by the best kitchen knife in the world.


Teramachi Shopping Arcade

Teramachi Street @ Sanjo Street

Tel. 075 257 7318

Open 10am to 7pm


Subway to Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae or Sanjo Station.


A beautiful, modern shop selling over 400 teas presented in small round tins that you can open and smell. Darjeelings, Chinese and Japanese green teas, red teas and flavoured teas, plus tea-related confectionary and accessories. Although they do not serve tea, you can taste the ones that you are interested in.


Lupicia is in the Teramachi covered shopping gallery


Cool! A temple with puppet machines.


Tagoto Honten soba restaurant

Just around the corner if you are feeling hungry, this is one of Kyoto’s oldest soba (buckwheat noodle) establishments. Turn left out of Lupicia and then right at the pedestrian intersection at the end of the Teramachi Arcade. Tamago is on your left – there are no signs in English, so if you reach the Lipton tearoom you’ve gone too far (and should flee anything called Lipton anyway)!


Judging by the sounds coming from the surrounding tables, slurping is most definitely the done thing when eating noodles in Japan. Whether you go for cold soba on a bamboo tray accompanied by a cup of dipping sauce, or a hot soup with mouth-watering delicacies, definitely SLURP. It is also OK to pick up the soup bowl in both hands and drink the broth straight from the bowl.

Teramachi-dori Nijo, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0915

Tel. +81 75 211 3421

Shop : 9am to 7pm (6pm on Sundays and holidays)  –  Tearoom 11am to 5pm


Subway to City Hall.

Ippodo's shopfront on Teramachi St.

Nothing much outside that I can read indicates that this is the place I am looking for, but as soon as I step through the sliding doors into the Ippodo tea shop I am struck by a sense of having arrived at The Source. Ladies in brown aprons and white headscarves are scooping different varieties of Japanese green tea, and ONLY green tea, from large tins onto scales and into tea caddies with the utmost respect and attention.

The Mecca of Japanese green tea, founded in 1717, Ippodo means “preserve one”, a name bestowed on the shop by Prince Yamashina of the Imperial household in 1846 in the hope that it would always provide only the most supreme quality teas. The Uji district of Kyoto prefecture, with its ideal climate, has been growing premium tea for over 800 years, and the traditional Japanese tea ceremony originated in Kyoto.

Entering the Mecca of Japanese green tea

Ippodo sells green tea and nothing but green tea: traditionally blended matcha, gyokoro, sencha and bancha in a range of qualities and prices, and there is a menu and instructions in English on how to prepare the teas.

You can also buy utensils, although the matcha whisks and scoops are slightly cheaper at Bamtera (see below) and are so obviously made, and sold, with love, that I preferred to buy mine there. At Ippodo, I resisted (for now) the tiny round metal box containing a sieve with a bamboo spatula for removing any lumps from the matcha powder before preparing it. Details, details…

You can purchase a matcha starter kit for newcomers to the bright green powder, but as a complete matcha virgin, I decided to head for the shop’s tearoom, take a seat inside Japan’s temple of green tea, and learn directly from the staff. The tradition in the Kaboku Tearoom is that customers prepare their own tea. Since the end result depends on three things – the tea leaves, the water and the preparation – Ippodo provides the first two, and you provide the third.

Teatime in Kyoto

The neighbourhood

Strolling up Teramachi Street looking for Ippodo, wondering if I might have missed it hidden away behind one of the many shop fronts with strictly Japanese only signs, I discovered many other treasures. The part of Teramachi Street running north from City Hall is quiet and low-rise, with antique shops and artisanal boutiques wholly dedicated to a single craft like bamboo carving, pottery or paper-making.

The Bamtera Bamboo & Wood  shop sells chasen whisks with neat little ceramic stands to store them on and protect the fronds, matcha tea scoops and other utensils, carved from one of nature’s most multifunctional materials, yet dedicated to one sole and unique purpose.

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In certain languages (Russian, Portuguese, Arabic and Hindi to name a few) the word for tea is clearly derived from the Cantonese “Tcha”. So how did our favourite drink come to be known as “tea” in English, or “thé”, “té” and  “thee” in French, Spanish or Dutch for example?

I may have stumbled across the explanation here in the very well-designed Museum of Macau. The Portuguese were first introduced to tea in Macau, where Cantonese was spoken, whereas it was traders from Amoy that first offered it to the Dutch. The word is “Tay” in the Amoy dialect, which comes from Fujian province.

So there you have it!

Now, it’s off for some Macanese high tea and custard tarts at Lord Stow’s if you don’t mind…  (click past the gondola on their website. There’s more to it than casino kitsch!).  Here’s hoping I can get out of Macau before typhoon Megi hits, otherwise the pasteis de nata are going to do some serious diet damage.

Museum of Macau


Museum of Macau tea map

A mouthwatering article from Time magazine… Tea and croquet at London’s Goring Hotel…



The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat,

The second shatters the walls of my lonely sadness,

The third searches the dry rivulets of my soul to find the stories of five thousand scrolls.

With the fourth the pain of past injustice vanishes through my pores.

The fifth purifies my flesh and bone.

With the sixth I am in touch with the immortals.

The seventh gives such pleasure I can hardly bear.

The fresh wind blows through my wings

As I make my way to Penglai.*


*Penglai, a mountain in China, was the traditional home of the immortals.

In Chinese tea culture, any good teahouse will pay its respects to Lu Tong, for example by placing a statue of the poet near the entrance.


142, Kee Shan Street

Recommended by Annie Cattan

An excellent teahouse in Taiwan (there are many more wonderful addresses): this one is the oldest teahouse in Jioufen, one hour from Taipei, not far from the Pacific.

There is also fantastic tea in the plantations at Muzha, on the outskirts of Taipei. Just walk along the road, follow your nose and pick one of the many teahouses scattered throughout the countryside.

Une bonne adresse de tea house à Taiwan (il y en a plein d’autres de merveilleuses) : il s’agit de la plus ancienne maison de thé de Jioufen, une ville située à 1h de Taipei non loin du Pacifique.

 Il y a également du thé génial dans les plantations de Muzha, en banlieue de Taipei : il suffit de marcher sur la route et de choisir selon son humeur l’une des nombreuses maisons de thé disséminées dans le paysage.

Website in Chinese with photos :


“We have very busy lives – or we make them very busy. There is noise and activity everywhere. Few people know how to be still and find a quiet place inside themselves. From that place of silence and stillness the creative forces emerge; there we find faith, hope, strength, and wisdom. However, since childhood we are taught to do things. Our heads are full of noise. Silence and solitude scare most of us.”

‘Isabel Allende on Destiny, Personal Tragedy, Writing’

“Life is nothing but noise between two unfathomable silences”

Isabel Allende in “Paula”