Destination: Ippodo Tea
Ippodo Tea of Kyoto, Japan, has been a destination for green tea enthusiasts for nearly 300 years. Last year they opened their first international branch in New York City. Whether you’re a seasoned tea connoisseur or exploring Japanese green tea for the first time, their cozy shop is a must-see. The staff is happy to lead you through a tea tasting and also explain complicated preparation methods. Stop by for freshly brewed teas to-go, tea canisters, serving bowls and other tea accessories.
During our visit, we tasted matcha, gyokuro, sencha and hojicha tea. Sencha is a basic, everyday tea that has a light, slightly sweet flavor. Hojicha has a toasty flavor and lower caffeine content. Gyokuro had the most surprising taste--both savory and filling; it was almost as rich as a soup.
Made from tea leaves that have been ground into a powder, matcha is known for its bright green hue and full bodied flavor (or umami). During our visit, we had the pleasure of witnessing an authentic matcha preparation. Making matcha is an art form involving a unique wrist motion and a bamboo whisk called a chasen (available for purchase at Ippodo). The whisk is used to gently froth the powder into a smooth, tasty beverage.