The Sakurai Tea Experience was a major highlight of our recent trip to Japan. Situated on the fifth floor of a commercial building in Omotesando, the tea shop features a intimate, minimalist tasting room with space for only eight customers.
The menu, firmly anchored in Japanese green teas, offers a variety of options, from single tea samples to multi-course tastings. We opted for the full horizontal tasting, which featured 4 different teas. Our tea master, Katsuhito-san, skillfully prepared each tea for us using traditional methods of preparation.
The first highlight of the tasting was a regal Gyokuro from Kyoto, pictured above. To calibrate the water temperature (Gyokuro steeps at lower temperatures than other teas), he cascaded boiling water through four successive bowls, with each transfer dropping the temperature by about 10 degrees F. The painstaking preparation, combined with the sublime quality of the Gyokuro itself, resulted in an absolutely brilliant cup. Katsuhito-san steeped the leaves twice more, inducing the flavor to evolve from sweet grass to umami with each successive preparation.
Another memorable moment was the on-premise roasting. The Houjicha tea was heated by hand using a Horoku roasting pan, then immediately steeped. This led to an intensely aromatic cup, reminiscent of smoked hay.
Throughout the tasting, Katsuhito-san paired each preparation with detailed commentary regarding the origin of each tea. Tasters can enjoy the experience at face value or dig for as many details as desired. From the beauty of the austere space, the quality of the product, and the intimate tasting experience, this was a phenomenal experience that we'd recommend without hesitation.
Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience
5-6-23 Minami Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo Japan