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Remind me again what Japan’s national (nonalcoholic) drink is. No, it’s not coffee, whether out of vending machines or fastidiously dripped by well-coiffed baristas. It is, of course, green tea — not that you’d realize it in Tokyo. This may be the land where ceremonial tea was perfected, but it’s hard to find anywhere in Tokyo that serves even a basic everyday variety like bancha, let alone jade-green sencha or fragrant high-grade gyokuro.

Thank goodness for Shinya Sakurai. In the year since he opened his elegant boutique-plus-tearoom in the backstreets of Nishi-Azabu, it has become one of the city’s great resources for all things ocha (tea). Its official name is Souen, but it is the English subtitle — Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience — that best describes the owner’s labor of love.

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