By Kumi Matsumaru / Japan News Staff WriterThe faint aroma of muscat filled my mouth as soon as I took a small sip of the green tea. Muscat may sound odd in relation to tea, but its fruity, fresh characteristics stood out, rather than the bitterness usually associated with green tea.
“This is the Asatsuyu cultivar from Kirishima Noen farm in Kagoshima Prefecture. It’s one of 12 cultivars from 11 different tea farmers that we selected for the cafe,” said Kantaro Okada, who served the tea after carefully transferring boiling water from a chagama kettle into a small teapot at Salon de the Papier Tigre. The small but cozy cafe specializing in green tea opened at the end of last month in a renovated wooden building in Tokyo’s historic Nihonbashi district.
Okada, creative director of cafe operator Ugly Caravan, traveled around the nation looking for quality organic green tea and narrowed his selection down to these 12. According to Okada, most green teas on the market are Yabukita-based blends, but his cafe only serves those of “single origin.”
“We want customers to enjoy the distinctive characteristics of each cultivar,” he said, adding that the cafe ultimately plans to raise the number of green teas on its menu to 100.
The green tea salon is situated in a corner of the nation’s first Papier Tigre shop, the French brand known for its recycled paper stationery, which opened along with the cafe in this building, which was built in 1961 and renovated this summer.
The interior is finished with old, exposed wooden ceiling beams and paper-based construction materials, giving the space a sense of unity and realizing the shop planners’ aim of blending Parisian design and Japanese taste.
The price of tea served by the pot starts at ¥580 (tax included), and it is also available in cans. Customers can enjoy Japanese sweets made by local confectioners for another ¥500.
“When we say ‘ocha o suru’ in Japanese, it means not only having tea, but also enjoying chatting or asking someone out,” Okada said. “Instead of going for coffee in an ordinary fashion, when you ocha o suru, I’d like you to enjoy the distinctive flavors of green tea while strolling around the historic area,” Okada said.
*Salon de the Papier Tigre
Open: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (L.O. 6:30 p.m.)
Closed: Sundays and Mondays
Address: 1F HAMA 1961, 3-10-4, Hamacho, Nihonbashi, Chuo Ward, Tokyo
English menu not available.
Credit cards accepted.
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