Taking a trip to Japan-- Seeking some tea tourism advice
This winter I’ll be going to Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and either Hiroshima or Tokyo. My bf and I will be staying and traveling with a friend who lives in Osaka, but he isn’t a huge tea drinker. So does anyone have tea tourism advice? Where should I go for tea related things, what tea/teaware/etc should I buy, what other tea related things should be on my list?
I don’t have any advice to offer, but have a great time! =)
Nothing too specific. But I just wanted to let you know, to try and avoid buying something right away in touristy areas, unless you know you love it and you are not going to go by the same area again. Japan in itself is not cheap but you can find different prices for the same item, just try to think if its worth it buying in the moment or waiting to see if you find something better.
Have a great trip and enjoy!
I’ve not been to Japan either but I love Japanese pottery. I have more side handled kyusu’s than I care to admit. Here’s a site that has a ton of info and if you enjoy their pottery also, it points to some great places to visit: http://www.e-yakimono.net/guide/index.html .
And if you poke around Yuuki Cha’s website, their tea descriptions give some exact info of where their teas are grown. A trip to a tea orchard would be wonderful.
Thread hijack! GuyOne, I’ve been looking into getting a side handled kyusu. Do you have any recommendations for good vendors in the US?
Claire, no suggestions for US vendors. I’m not an expert by any means, only suffer from OCT. I have bought from Chado House, Canadian, through their Amazon store. In my appreciation of Japanese pottery I’ve bought a lot of antiques on Ebay, mostly from Japanese vendors. I’ve bought both vintage and handmade off of Etsy. There is another thread here that a fellow I used to see on Etsy announces that he now has his own webstore, also Canadian. But the best I’ve gotten are direct from Japan, through Yuuki-Cha and ArtisticNippon. You should start a thread and give your parameters and other folks can suggest what to look for.
Thanks for the input GuyOne! I have an etsy store myself and have been searching for a kyusu on there, but it looks like not many people make them.
Yeah, I have been wanting a side handled Kyusu for a while now and have been holding off on ordering one online.. Thanks for sharing this site, very informative!
You can find tea related good anywhere, from a tourist shop to a tea shop to a supermarket. Of course, a tea shop is probably best.
A good kyusu (Japanese tea pot) is a good investment, in my opinion.
For gyokuro tea there are special tea pots like houhin and shiboridashi. The tea cups for gyokuro are also smaller.
You can find a lot of yunomi (Japanese tea cups) made for everyday drinking of tea. It’s nice to have.
For a specific type of tea, say for example kukicha, you do need to know how it’s written in Japanese (or have someone translate for you) because most packages have no english whatsoever. Otherwise it’s hard to know what you’re buying.
You can look up tea types written in Japanese on my blog: http://www.myjapanesegreentea.com/types-of-japanese-green-tea
Good luck with your trip and have fun!
Thanks for your reply. Great suggestions on items to buy, I have been wanting a kyusu for a while. How do I know what to look for as far as finding one that is good quality? Thanks for that link to your blog, that is definitely going to be useful :) (really great blog btw)
I’m glad you liked my blog :)
Popular kyusu choices are tokoname and bankoyaki. It refers to the material and way that they’re made. The side-handed style is also the most common.
Make sure you pick the right size, let’s say that you normally brew for 3 people, then buy a kyusu that’s sufficiently big.
About the infuser type, that’s a whole different world. I recommend infusers that can be removed for easy cleaning, have small openings and a large surface area and volume. Otherwise the tea leaves can easily clog (in the case of small surface area infuser) or won’t be able to freely expand (in the case of infuser that holds a small volume, such as a small basket infuser).
If you’ll brew fukamushicha, there are special kyusu intended for that.
There’s no perfect type, it depends on your needs, really.
As for tea farms and plantations, i’ve been to a few but they too remote. For tea retailers, there are so many to choose from in Tokyo. In Jiyuugaoka, Lupicia has their flagship store. In Ginza, there are numerous Japanese tea vendors in the Depachika of Mitsukoshi. Harrods also sells their teas in Mitsukoshi and so does Mariage. Hariage also has their main store in Ginza but they also have branches throughout Japan.. There is also the Brook Bond Tea salon in Ginza. In Shirogane, Marine de Bourbon has a tea salon. Fauchon has numberous stores throughout Tokyo and Japan. In the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi, they have a Fortnum and Mason Store. All of the stores I’ve listed above are in Tokyo/Kanto area.
Kyoto is famous for the local ‘kyomizuyaki’ pottery, and is right next to Uji, the place where Japanese tea was first cultivated. Both in Kyoto and Uji, you will most likely find various versions of Uji tea, and if you are to buy some, I would suggest some gyokuro or matcha. I also know that Hibiki-an, located in Ujitawara, Uji, is offering customers guided tours at their tea farm. Might be worth checking out.
If you are headed towards Tokyo, you could also stop by Shizuoka and buy some sencha, although I think it would be very much available at the many tea vendors in Tokyo too.
Oh, and make sure to enjoy some match ice cream as well!