Matcha, a particular kind of green tea that is characterized by fine powder, has become more popular around the world in the recent years. Before, the term hardly had any recall, but now, you can see it as an ice cream flavor, a latte, or a frappe, and it’s become yet another icon of Japan.
If you’re a green tea lover, of course you’d want to drink some good, authentic matcha when you visit Tokyo. While you can easily find a matcha latte in most coffee shops in Tokyo—Starbucks, Tully’s, Excelsior, and Cafe de Crie, to name a few—you might want to look for cafes that specialize in matcha green tea, offering not only drinks but even matcha desserts.
Surprisingly, matcha cafes aren’t much of a thing in Tokyo, probably because it’s so easy to take matcha for granted when the major coffee shops serve it, and tea shops usually serve plain matcha. There are a few such establishments that are pretty upscale, but we’ll direct you to the (more) affordable options (good-quality green tea doesn’t come all that cheap, after all)!
1. Nana’s Green Tea
This chain is probably the most popular matcha cafe in Tokyo (not that there are many in the first place). Nana’s Green Tea has several branches in Tokyo—inside Lumine Kita-Senju, in Tokyo Dome City’s LaQua, in Tokyo Sky Tree Town Solamachi, and in Marui’s Ueno branch, to name a few—but they started in Jiyugaoka.
You can order the basic combination, plain matcha and small Japanese-style sweets, for ¥530. The rest of their matcha drinks go for ¥410–¥700. To give you an idea of their matcha drinks menu, they’ve got matcha macchiato, matcha choco latte, matcha soda, matcha shiratama azuki latte (shiratama are white balls of mochi, and azuki is red bean paste), and frozen matcha drinks.
They serve other types of green tea, such as houjicha (roasted green tea) and genmaicha (green tea with roasted brown rice) as well, for about ¥390–¥650.
And if you want seasonal drinks, they have them, too—like a sakura shiratama latte for spring.
If you prefer matcha in your food rather than as a beverage, they’ve got desserts like matcha chocolate (¥380), a matcha gateau chocolate cake (¥550 a slice), and parfaits (¥790–¥930).
2. Ujicha Gion Tsujiri
Ujicha Gion Tsujiri is the real deal, as it’s originally from Gion, Kyoto’s famous geisha district; Kyoto’s got a reputation for having the finest quality teas.
Mainly selling tea powder in packages, this is actually more of a matcha shop than a cafe, but they also serve drinks from ¥270–¥600, soft-serve matcha ice cream for ¥420, and parfaits starting at ¥1,000.
A famous park, a former black market and a whole heap of museums—get to know Ueno:
They also have some seats, so you can still take some time to enjoy your order. If you want a menu with a wider selection, including noodles infused with matcha, look for this shop when you visit Kyoto.
3. Habutae Dango
And finally for a taste of history, be sure to pop over to Nippori and visit Habutae Dango, a tea house that was founded in 1819. It’s inexpensive—around ¥700 for a matcha dango set—and has a beautiful Japanese garden.
For more things tea, try these traditional tea houses in Tokyo.
Tokyo and Japan have a reputation for the strange and unusual museums.