Tokyo Saryo: The new stylings of sencha green tea

by Robbie Swinnerton

Contributing Writer

Japan’s traditional daily drink, sencha green tea, is making a comeback. For too long it’s been crowded out of modern consciousness by the buzz and self-promotion of coffee culture. But thanks to places like Tokyo Saryo, sencha may be starting to regain its relevance and appeal.

This chic tea specialist on the fringes of Sangenjaya believes that premium, single-origin sencha — the whole, dried leaves of the tea bush, infused with care, and sipped with discernment — is worthy of as much appreciation as, say, coffee beans from Ethiopia or Brazil.

The look is that of a miniature, minimal, third-wave coffee shop, and so is the preparation. Choose a couple of varieties to taste and compare, and then watch as your brew is prepared — in the pour-over style — with the same intensity and precision as you’d expect from any barista.

Give yourself plenty of time. Sencha (unlike coffee) allows for at least two infusions from one batch of leaves. The first, brewed at 70 degrees Celsius, offers subtle sweetness. The second, at a slightly higher 80 degrees, is more robust. And for the third, roasted rice is added to make genmaicha.

Feel the caffeine kick in, gentle but powerful, clearing and resetting your mind. Be careful, though: this could become habit-forming.

Tasting set ¥1,300; English menu; little English spoken. Tokyo Saryo’s parent company, Green Brewing, has now opened a sencha boutique in Ginza. For more details, visit www.senchado.jp.