Ippodo Tea, Kaboku Tearoom – Maccha Koicha
Ippodo, started in 1717, is one of the most well known tea companies in Japan, with shops in all the major department stores throughout the country. As big as it has become, the original main store is still small and friendly, located on a small street just south of Gosho.
Ippodo’s tea is from the region called Uji, south of Kyoto (宇治茶, Ujicha). Uji is one of the two principle tea producing regions of Japan (the other being Shizuoka).
Ippodo has many, many kinds of tea, from cheap to very expensive. They are all excellent. Ippodo supplies detailed instructions in English regarding how to brew each tea properly. The translations are professional and proper, understandable English. Ippodo even gives a free measuring spoon with all purchases in order to make sure that the customers are able to measure out the right amount of tea at home.
The Kaboku Tearoom, recently renovated serves a wonderful assortment of Ippodo’s teas. Kaboku Tearoom is accessed via the main door of Ippodo, to the back of the store and to the right.
K. F. PekoPeko has a personal favorite and that is the Koicha Maccha. Koi means thick or stong. Cha, of course is tea. Maccha is the powdered green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony.
Koicha Maccha comes in two varieties, Unmon-no-mukashi and Seiun. I recommend the Unmon-no-mukashi.
The Ippodo Koicha Maccha is STRONG! Most Japanese have never even seen anything like it.
Koicha Maccha isn’t just strong, it isn’t just thick. It is unbelievable! It’s the thickness of yogurt! And, this IS tea.
If you like your coffee strong, and you like tea, I highly recommend that you give this a try when you are in Kyoto.
Despite the excessive thickness, it is not bitter or disagreeable in anyway. I always feel like I am drinking a cup of verdant, gorgeous green paint.
After ‘finishing’ it the staff takes away the cup, adds more hot water, whisks it and comes back with a normal strength maccha.
All teas at Kaboku are served with wagashi.
Ippodo is a great place to buy some tea to take back home, or just to drop in for a great tea, on your way to or back from Gosho. Ippodo is just a 15 minute walk up from the Sanjo area, on Teramachi Street (寺町通り, Teramachidori). The neighborhood (Teramachi Street between Oike Street and Marutamachi Street) has many interesting shops and galleries.
If you like green tea or are feeling daring, or want to remedy jet lag, Koicha Maccha is a must try!
Kaboku’s Koicha Maccha
Koicha Maccha and wagashi — before
Koicha Maccha and wagashi — after
Koicha Maccha second time around — before
Koicha Maccha second time around — after
Ippodo store interior (notice the antique storage pots on the shelf)
Ippodo store interior (contemporary product lineup)
Ippodo facade — corner
Ippodo has an excellent English language website and online store and ships abroad. If you find some teas that you like here on your trip, you can still order refills even after you return home.
menu and staff: Ippodo has an excellent English menu and explanation of products and preparation methods. The staff speaks some English (or will try to).