After checking into our hotel in Kyoto, we decided to walk towards Honke Owariya for lunch. On the way there, we planned to just pop inside Ippodo to check the offerings…
We were all initially interested in their extensive hojicha collection, and as we stood there, sticky from the humid morning, one of the staff came up to us to offer a sample of their matcha slush.
We thought we were set to purchase our items when one of my travel buddies caught sight of a sign – a tea tasting set for ¥1000 per person.
The tea master greeted us with a happy, “English, me, no”, but he did his best and we all communicated with gestures and simple words.
I really enjoyed seeing how he prepared his tea with careful ease, knowing exactly when the water was the right temperature, and how long it would take to get light, medium, and strong steeping times.
He asked us for our preference in strength, and we were talked down to get medium at first, while Dan went with her gut and got strong. He warned us of the bitter taste with strong, unsure if we would be able to handle it. After our first tea, Ranee and I looked at each other and unanimously decided on strong for the rest of our tasting. I think we all tend to oversteep our teas, so we were used to the strong and slightly bitter taste of tea.
He asked us for our favourites at the end, and we all resoundingly said hojicha – his was sencha. The real winner of the tea tasting was the store, as we (mostly me) proceeded to buy a sizeable set of tea… I may have also returned the next morning solo to add souvenirs.