Sellers of Ippodo shop.
Preparations for the tea ceremony.
Credit: DR Guylène Le Mignot
Discover the depths of tea leaves
A specialist in Japanese teas, Ippodo aims to introduce to the public the subtleties of a divine and delicate brew.
With its name, meaning "preserve one," Ippodo describes its vocation, namely, to perpetuate the traditional techniques of high quality tea production and unique tastes. This was the request made by Prince Yamashina Akira (1816-1891) when he renamed the store in 1846, where he was a regular customer. Since then, the teas of this shop on Teramachi-dori , just south of the Imperial Palace , are among the most famous on the archpelago. Their leaves are products of Uji, just south of Kyoto, a rural area famous for tea. Ippodo promotes and teaches amateurs the subtle differences in flavor that distinguish teas from matcha, powdered green tea used in the tea ceremony, to Gyokuro, with a milder taste, more easily consumed by the average taster.
New horizons of delight
Gyukuro is known as a "shaded" tea, raised without sun during the three final weeks before harvesting, with an umami taste. This "savory" concept was added to the five tastes and was invented by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Ikeda Kikunae (1864-1936) in 1908. He discovered the molecule hidden behind all the most delicious tastes-- glutamate, present particularly in meat or tomatoes-- and he called it umami, literally "great taste". For powdered matcha tea, because it is so delicate, the owner, Watanabe-san, suggests consuming it within two weeks after opening. One idea is to select several small amounts of the thirty varieties sold by Ippodo. Above all, do not miss the "new tea," shintcha, every May, a fan favorite.
Ready, Set, Whisk!
To complete the Ippodo experience, there are also specialists available to demonstrate the different techniques of tea making in the shop's Kaboku room, so you can enjoy a cup of tea of your own making. Their Kaboku room is highly rated and has inspired many to replicate the experience at home. From the birth of the plant in Uji to the whisking and brewing of its green leaves, come learn all the secrets of tea with their dedicated English staff.
The official video of the shop explaining in details how the matcha powder is done