If you are planning to visit Kyoto, you won't want to miss out on the city's most famous tea shops as well as some of the up and coming ones. Kyoto offers a number of tea establishments where you can have the pleasure of sipping on a cup of freshly brewed Japanese green tea or stock up on the latest harvest of loose leaf tea.
However long you stay in Kyoto, it will likely be too short. Enjoy these incredible tea shops while you are there and make sure to leave enough room in your suitcase to bring back some tea home!
Ippodo Tea Kyoto Main Store
Conveniently located in downtown Kyoto, Ippodo's original shop offers a wide selection of Japanese teas. Visitors can sample various grades of matcha, gyokuro, sencha, bancha, as well as prepare their tea of choice using a traditional kyusu. After enjoying a cup of hojicha and a Japanese confection, the tea room is just a short walk away from the Sentō Imperial Palace and its beautiful gardens.
Known for its high quality matcha, Marukyu-Koyamaen delights visitors seeking to sip Japanese green tea or to enjoy tea infused treats. The most popular item on the menu is the matcha roll cake set, which includes the light and creamy dessert and a cup of sencha, hojicha, genmaicha, or matcha soda. While ice cream is available year round, the flavorful Kyoto Hojicha Ice Cream is best enjoyed as a tasty soft serve cone during the summer months while exploring the streets between Nijō Castle and the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
Nakamura Tokichi Kyoto Station
While those in a hurry can purchase green tea and ice cream from the to go counter downstairs, the Nakamura Tokichi cafe itself is a must visit for anyone travelling through the busy Kyoto Station. The cafe has an extensive menu including lunch or dinner dishes featuring noodles made from matcha. Those with a sweet tooth should leave room for the signature Maruto Parfait available in both matcha or hojicha. Some notable layers within the extravagant treat are hojicha chiffon cake, ice cream, and mochi. After dining, panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed from the observation deck of the nearby Kyoto Tower.
Yugen is a hidden gem located south of Nishiki Market shopping district. The minimalist tea stand is best known for serving Kyoto style iced lattes made with either matcha or hojicha powder. Although the limited seating at Yugen makes it more geared for takeaway, each drink is expertly crafted with care and made with high quality ingredients. The passionate owners are incredibly knowledgeable and welcoming.
Inventive desserts made from powdered tea such as the hojicha castella parfait attract locals and tourists alike to the Gion Tsujiri cafe. After sampling tea and treats at the lower level tea shop, visitors can head to the restaurant upstairs to enjoy matcha, roasted green tea, and kinako flavored menu items. Those interested in a full meal after a day of walking around the historic Gion streets, might be interested in ordering the matcha soba or udon noodles followed by a green tea set which includes a choice of seasonal Japanese sweets.
Fukujuen Kyoto Main Store
Each floor of the Fukujuen building features a space dedicated to serving tea lovers. In the basement of the multi-story store, visitors can attend tea blending workshops to create a unique tea tailored to their preferences. Ready to purchase Uji tea is available in the tea shop on the first floor. Then on the second floor, the Fukujuen cafe delights guests with seasonal drinks and treats such as their decadent Hojicha Creme Brulee. Upper floors include a restaurant serving fine French cuisine, a Japanese teaware shop, and a tea room for those interested in experiencing an authentic tea ceremony.
Kagizen Yoshifusa Head Shop
Those heading to view the cherry blossoms at Maruyama Park, should stop by Kagizen Yoshifusa for their selection of traditional Japanese confections. The Kuzukiri noodles are a must-have as they are made fresh to order and dipped into a sweet black sugar syrup called Kuromitsu. Relax and sip on a warm cup of roasted green tea while you wait to eat, and think of that box of colorful higashi you'll be picking up on your way out.
The french tea company, Mariage Frères has a large collection of over 800 tea blends from around the world. Many of their popular blends are available for sale at the Kyoto shop located within the Kyoto BAL department store. Local favorites include kukicha, hojicha, and black tea smoked with Japanese cypress. In addition to loose leaf and tea bags, Mariage Frères also offers elegant hand-blown glass teaware.
Horaido Tea Stall
Located near the bustling Shinkyogoku shopping street, Horaido Tea Stall is packed to the brim with Japanese tea and traditional teaware. The owners are friendly and ready to help visitors find the perfect tea for themselves or a gift. After sampling Karigane, Hojicha, and Kawayanagi, they will also recommend the appropriate vessel for the Ujicha whether it's a kyusu, hohin, or tetsubin.
Bikouen Tea House
Bikouen Tea House offers several types of tea ceremony experiences, as well as a matcha experience for solo travellers. The most recommended is the Samurai Spirit Tea Ceremony which includes an extended performance by the tea master. Beginners and experts alike can escape the busy city to practice chado in the quiet tea room. While waiting for the reservation time, visitors can walk along the Kamo River or visit the large Higashi-Honganji Temple.