The first time I went to Tokyo, I was looking for tea. I had only started to fall for Japanese tea then. The problem was, I had no idea how to find it.
Japanese seemed intimidating to me.
Kanji. I had no idea what that even was.
Foreign sounds and sights, lots and lots of stimulation.
I loved it, but it but I still had no idea how to navigate the city.
The subway is a person’s best friend. Get a metal pass, put 1000-2000 yen, or 5000 -10,000 depending on how much subway you want to use. The card will also work in Kyoto.
The subway is the way to go.
Use Google maps. The train schedules will be shown.
Google maps is not trustworthy outside of the city. You can look for other city map apps that offer train directions. A quick search in your operating system’s store should turn up several.
These are my favorite spots in Tokyo to have tea:
Sakurai is really nice. Opt for the 5 tea course, and select the high grade gyokuro option. Other tea options available, but I think everyone needs to have gyokuro. They also have some interesting tea cocktails. May consider a reservation — limited seating.
Chachanoma has an incredible selection of teas. Master brewing techniques. Enjoy stages and temperatures of the tea. They will brew your tea in several different ways during the visit.
Tokyo Sayro: They serve a very long list of single origin senchas from all over Japan including a number of the more unique cultivars. The place has a super modern feel. They make the tea using a modernized brewing device which they created (if I understood correctly).
Saten: My friend Akito brought me to Saten. We went in the evening. They have a matcha bar where you can get pretty much anything you want. I requested a Gibraltar. Think double shot with a little foam. It was excellent! They also have tea cocktails. I had a nice black tea whiskey cut with cola. And don’t miss the matcha pudding, if they haven’t run out!
GenGen: Fun vibe. Reminded me of walking into a music store in the 90s. Old school music playing on the boombox. A more grab and go in my opinion, but we opted to hang out for a little while. There are standup tables available.
Ippodo: Everyone should try to have an experience at this tea house at least once. If going to Kyoto though I suggest to consider visiting the original location in Kyoto. If not, go in Tokyo. Try the Gyokuro. I strongly recommend selecting the highest grade and most expensive one they have. It will likely be unlike anything you have ever tasted. Strongly recommend.
There are many more out there. I would suggest asking around as you visit some of these places.