The number of unique Japanese tea shops is increasing. Those include a shop specialized in flavored tea and a café that serves cups of hand-drip Japanese tea. They are contributing to the expansion of the Japanese tea follower base.
Ocharaka is a tea shop located in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. A huge shelf of wooden tea boxes with name tags such as “Baked Apple” and “Rose” occupies one wall of the shop. Inside the boxes are 50 kinds of flavored tea leaves produced based on Japanese tea leaves and dried fruits and flower petals.
The shop owner is Stephane Danton, a 52-year-old ex-wine sommelier from France. After he came to Japan, he changed his job and launched his own business as a Japanese tea seller. Adding flavoring was the method he chose to appeal to more tea drinkers. In 2008, he served 970,000 cups of green tea with orange flavoring in 93 days to the visitors to the Japanese pavilion at the Expo Zaragoza in Spain.
His shop is crowded with people, especially with women who enjoy choosing different flavors to match their feelings and with international travelers who want souvenirs for their friends and families. One of the popular items, Yuzu-flavored tea, is JPY994 for 40 grams. According to Stephane, citrus flavors are popular among his customers. “I want to appeal to more people of the world and expand the demand,” he said.
Tokyo Saryo in Setagaya, Tokyo, is the world’s first hand-drip green tea cafe that opened in January this year.
Visitors here can enjoy a very unique hand-dripped green tea service prepared using a unique apparatus. It also uses premium tea leaves in different varieties that came from selected tea producers. For JPY1,300, you get two different varieties of green teas in cups, out of the selection of seven, and sweets that go with your tea. According to Mikito Tanimoto, director of the cafe operating company, Lucy Alter Design Inc., the most popular choice of its customers is the combination of Harumoegi from Kagoshima Prefecture and Koishizuku from Shizuoka Prefecture.
Uogashi Meicha is an old firm specialized in Japanese tea headquartered in Tsukiji, Tokyo. It recently started to sell tea leaves in stylish packaging. A small and colorful triangular package contains tea leaves for a single serving and the product is called “Cha Cha Cha.”
The volume of the content varies depending on the types of tea leaves. A set of five Cha Cha Cha packages in three types is sold at JPY1,080. Since its launch in 2015, it’s one of the best selling gift items of the company.