Uji / Green Tea
Hi Chowhound friends,
Am working on my itinerary for Kyoto.
I had considered a half day trip down to Uji to visit the green tea shops and specialist cafes/ restaurants but am not sure whether this will be worthwhile for us. I'd love your input.
-- Although I read a plot synopsis, The Tale of Genji connection doesn't really interest me.
-- As our visit is in the second half of October, it's very unlikely that cormorant fishing will still be occuring.
-- We have only a few days in total for Kyoto and so much I want to see/ visit.
Are the green tea food/ drink specialities available in Uji really much different to what I can find in Kyoto, if I look around? I'm not a green tea fanatic, though I certainly enjoy it. I would be unlikely to be able to distinguish top grade teas from middle of the road decent ones.
Are green tea prices much the same in Kyoto as they would be in Uji?
And lastly, if we skip Uji, do you have any favourite green tea shops to recommend and / or any particularly lovely stores at which I could buy?
You don't need to go to Uji for Uji green tea.
The best part of the trip to Uji was going to Taiho-an tea house for a traditional tea ceremony.
If you decide not to stray from Kyoto proper, then I would suggest finding a place within the city that offers a tea ceremony.
A couple of places in Kyoto that were recommended to me:
Ippodo 一保堂 (also in Tokyo Marunouchi)
Main tearoom is off Teramachi north of Nijo-dori.
Ryuuou'en Chaho 柳桜園茶舗
The main tea room is at Nijo-dori Gokomachi Nishi-iru.
If I recall correctly, they both have a presence in Kyoto Takashimaya's depachika.
Ippodo is also in Daimaru (in Kyoto) (and they have/used to have a presence in NYC as well as online).
I like Ippodo and often buy from them when in the area, but there are other places popular with Kyoto-ites. I can't remember names off-hand, but you don't need to go to Uji to get good tea, and it's not usually cheaper there than at other locations. If you're just buying, you can get good quality teas from any depachika. When I buy for friends, I usually go to depachika and just grab a range of qualities from different purveyors. You can also find tea stores all around the tourist areas of Kyoto, including the Nishiki/Shinkyogoku/Teramachi area.
If you're interested in modern takes on Japanese tea, you can go to Jouvencelle in the Gion area. It's popular for its matcha fondue. I haven't tried it, but I've heard good things.
Or you could make a stop at Gion Koishi for matcha parfait.
I was at Ippodo today. I'm no tea expert by any means, but we thought the teas were very interesting and high quality. We sat in their tea room and they show you how to brew the tea. It sounds like it would be touristy but it didn't seem to be. I believe their tea comes from Uji. If you have some there, they serve it in with nice, very fresh wagashi. It wasn't a traditional tea house atmosphere or anything, though. I saw that they also sell Ippodo tea at the Takashimaya in Kyoto as well.