New to the Spiral building in Omotesando is Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience, which has relocated from its original Nishi-Azabu location to a spot directly next door to Mina Perhonen’s newly opened Call.
This is no ordinary tea house. Sakurai’s extensive menu comprises top-quality Japanese teas, which range from everyday sencha and bancha to high-grade matcha and original specialty blends. Served by experts in sometimes unusual ways, such as “brewed” in melting ice or infused in vodka or rum, Sakurai’s teas are roasted in-house within its glass-walled workshop.
There’s a retro feel to the bar with servers wearing lab coats — a reference to the ancient medicinal uses of tea — old-school tea-making utensils and the alcohol versions stored in giant round-bottomed lab flasks.
Before opening Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience, owner Shinya Sakurai worked at the wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) store Higashiya, an experience that he brings to the bar by pairing brews with sweets. For the summer, Shinya has also borrowed a vintage kakigori (shaved ice) machine to offer hojicha (roasted tea) ice desserts.
It’s an intimate space, seating only eight people, but it’s open until 11 p.m. on weekdays, so worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood.
The lowdown: Every kind of Japanese tea imaginable, plus some you wouldn’t have dreamed of, in a low-key setting with intimate service.
Why we are excited: It’s not just about matcha, visitors can sample and compare less internationally well-known types of tea as well as discover new ways to drink it. Desserts are great, too.