Translated by Ray Koh
Experience Authentic Japanese Green Tea At Jugetsudō, Ginza
Written by Keisuke Yamada
At Jugetsudō, Ginza, you can taste some of the best quality Japanese teas around and its Japanese Tea Course is a great opportunity to learn how to prepare delicious tea yourself.
After coming all the way to Japan, you must want to try Japanese tea at least once. There are many types however, such as sencha (green tea leaves), matcha (powdered green tea), hōjicha (roasted green tea leaves), genmaicha (tea with roasted rice); the flavor of the tea changes according to the situation. What's more, there are some variations in which tea leaves are not used at all, such as barley tea and kombu tea.
Nonetheless, it would be a waste not to experience drinking authentic Japanese tea in a calm atmosphere, and learning the correct way of tea brewing is something to look forward to.
Here we will introduce a store located within Kabuki-za (the largest Kabuki theater in Tokyo), called "Jugetsudō" (寿月堂).
Jugetsudō in Kabuki-za, Ginza
Jugetsudō specializes in tea, but started off as a nori seaweed store nearly 160 years ago. From the beginning they have been always seeking to spread Japan's unique food culture to the world, breaking boundaries and constantly taking on challenges. The opening of a store in Paris that offers Japanese tea leaves and traditional handicrafts was a result of that spirit.
The people living in Paris and visitors of the city were able to taste Japanese tea and understand its the depth, that is why the culture of tea has managed to spread. Jugetsudō was then established in Kabuki-za, Ginza, where it continues to promote Japanese culture through tea.
The store's interior layout was designed by world famous architect, Kengo Kuma; countless bamboo stalks cover the interior walls, creating an authentic Japanese ambiance.
There is also a rooftop garden; a lush expanse of green can be seen past the glass wall.
Experience a Japanese Tea Course
Ever since washoku (Japanese food) was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, the appeal of Japanese sencha and matcha as particularly healthy drinks has gained popularity. Jugetsudō provides a course in "Experiencing Japanese Tea", where you can enjoy various kinds of tea, such as sencha , gyokuro , matcha or hōjicha , along with enticing sweets prepared especially for tea.
We will reveal to you today the details of the finest tea experience, which you can only get in this specialist store. It is a course that allows you to relax in the ambiance of the bamboo interior, while sipping some exquisite tea.
Savor Japanese Tea
First up, you get to drink some cool tea while snacking on a financier (a light, moist French cake). To eat delicious cookies and drink tea while listening to information about tea is a really rewarding experience.
Preparing Gyokuro Tea
Next up you get to prepare gyokuro tea. The cultivation of gyokuro differs from other types of tea and this is the secret behind its distinct taste. In the case of gyokuro, the tea plant is either grown in shade from the moment it sprouts or put under shade three weeks before harvesting. Blocking out sunlight suppresses the production of catechin, the substance responsible for the pungency of the taste, while increasing the properties of tannin that give the tea its delicious taste. This results in gyokuro having a sweeter taste compared to other teas.
As you can see in the picture, hot water is poured into the tea bowl. Please note that the temperature should be dropped at approximately 60°C.
The gyokuro is then placed into a separate dish.
The 60°C water is poured into the same dish, and the tea leaves are left to steam.
Once the leaves have steamed sufficiently, the tea is poured out to the very last drop.
Once this is all done, you can savor the rich tasting, yet clear gyokuro tea.
The tea leaves are edible, and we recommend eating them with a dash of soy sauce that comes with the set.
The next stage is preparing Hōjicha. Hōjicha is essentially green tea that has been roasted and it has characteristic aroma. Here you will get the chance to actually roast the tea for yourself, nice and slow.
The thoroughly roasted tea has no trace of bitterness or tartness; its lightness is really special.
Enjoying Matcha and Japanese Sweets
We will next drink matcha. Preparing matcha properly is rather difficult, that is why a professional came to kindly help us with it.
It is a rare experience even for the Japanese to have a professional prepare matcha right in front of their eyes. The aroma and the beautiful green color of matcha is something you can enjoy with all your senses.
You can savor matcha sweets as well. You should definitely experience the harmony between the sweetness of the cookies and bitterness of the matcha tea.
Rarities That You Can Only Buy Here
Special earthen teapots, tea bowls and tea leaves are sold at Jugetsudō. Because it used to specialize in selling nori seaweed, it also offers many types of nori as well. The nori seaweed at Jugetsudō is of such high quality that it is used in many high-class sushi restaurants in Ginza.
We will present some types of tea leaves that are sold here.
First, in the picture above you can see the type of tea that is used in the Japanese Tea Course. It is the best selection of tea leaves, so you can enjoy the same taste in the comfort of your own home.
In the photo above you can see the hosokan tea leaves series (細缶茶葉シリーズ). The containers have a modern design, while the high-quality tea leaves are popular in both Europe and many other countries. As a Japanese product, it is highly recommended.
Matcha and bamboo tea whisks (chasen) essential for matcha making are also sold here.
How was it? While walking around Tokyo you will realize that there aren't many stores specializing in tea around. Indeed, there's probably only one store in the world that sells both high-quality tea and nori seaweed: Jugetsudō in Kabuki-za, Ginza.
Having come all this way to Tokyo's Ginza, it would be a waste not to experience something truly Japanese. Why not give this Japanese Tea Course a try?
Jugetsudō in Kabuki-za, Ginza
Address: Tokyo, Chuō, Ginza 4-12-15 Kabuki-za Tower 5F
Nearest Station: Higashi Ginza Station (東銀座駅), Toei Asakusa & Tokyo Metro Hibiya lines
Access: Connected directly to Higashi Ginza Station
Price Range: 1000-2000 yen
Phone Number: +81-3-6278-7626
Website: Jugetsudō in Kabuki-za, Ginza