The stylish Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience in fashionable Aoyama is the perfect place to explore the wonderful world of Japanese tea beyond the usual thick matcha. Explore the more than 50 varieties of local Japanese tea or perhaps one of the tea-infused cocktails.
Japanese tea does not have to be stiff or fussy. With its stylish, modern space at once quiet yet relaxed, Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience is the perfect place to dip into the world of modern tea appreciation. Whether you are a bona fide tea lover or simply curious, this small gem of a tea salon is a must-visit while in Tokyo.
Located on the fifth floor of Aoyama’s iconic Spiral Building, Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience is a gorgeously designed space combining a roasting room, tea shop, and a tearoom. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the tearoom with natural light. Warm, earthy tones and clean geometric lines dominate with wood, copper, and iron accents. It is a space that demands full appreciation from all five senses.
Upon entering, you are enveloped by the deep, toasty scent of roasting hojicha. The absence of background music allows you to hear the sound of simmering water, which—as Kakuzo Okakura describes in The Book of Tea—resembles the soughing of pines on some faraway hill. Eight low chairs set around a spacious L-shaped counter invite relaxation, and allow for a full view of the tea-making proceedings. Watching the staff make tea is an almost meditative experience.
As many as 50 or more varieties of tea from across Japan are available at any given time. An excellent way to experience them is by ordering one of the tea courses. This is a tea flight paired with a wagashi sweet or steamed chestnut rice. You will taste your way across an entire tea spectrum, from the fragrant and umami-packed gyokuro to a gorgeously grassy whipped matcha. Tea will never just be “tea” again.
Tea is also a medium for expressing the seasons. Summer here sees guests enjoying bowls of kakigori shaved ice flavored with hojicha roasted tea, a favorite hot weather treat turned sophisticated dessert. Then there are the ever-changing tea blends. Imagine dried peach-infused oolong, a fragrant and lightly acidic grape stem-spiked tea, or tea leaves blended with perilla.
Those looking for a more unusual experience should consider the tea liquors. It is a rare operation that can successfully create delicious tea-based liquors, but they pull it off with aplomb. Think rum infused with smoky hojicha, matcha beer, or gin flavored with a sweet, herbaceous tea that has been aged for three years. Treats like these are best enjoyed in the evenings with some pickles or homemade miso-preserved camembert cheese.
Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience is the perfect place to explore the wonderful world of Japanese tea beyond the usual thick matcha, either as a solo traveler or in pairs. Unlike most traditional tearooms, there are no particular expectations in terms of etiquette. Indeed, the space resembles a modern tea bar. The staff here speak enough English to communicate. Should you wish to purchase any of the teas sampled, they will be delighted to show you optimal brewing methods for recreating the experience at home.
This is not a restaurant. In lieu of full meals, you will partake in light snacks with tea. Advance reservations are highly recommended on weekends, with a maximum of six guests per group. Bookings can be made in English by email through the official website.