A basic cup of joe is up for grabs on every Tokyo street corner thanks to the ubiquitous vending machines, while a now-overflowing supply of 'third wave' coffeeshops is spoiling the city's caffeine addicts. But what about green tea? The list of matcha-flavoured snacks may be getting longer by the day, but no one is talking about a tea revolution – yet. Kichijoji’s brand new Uni Stand café is here to provide the spark, offering matcha beverages made by the ultimate cha-rista (tea barista).
When Uni Stand’s owner began exploring Tokyo's coffee landscape with the aim of becoming a barista, he noticed that coffee beans were in the process of crowding out Japan's native green leaves. To set things right, the self-styled cha-rista abandoned his initial plans and opened a green tea café, even hosting workshops to revive the endangered art of verdant brews. Though Uni Stand also serves coffee – got to be realistic, right? – we suggest you try out the Uji Matcha Au Lait (hot ¥520, iced ¥560), made by the master himself. Since no additional sugar goes in the drink, you can taste the flavourful bitterness of the matcha, perfectly complemented by the creamy milk. Order an Uji Matcha (hot ¥480, iced ¥520) if you’re keen on trying it straight, and simply add sugar if you have a sweet tooth.
Serious tea aficionados will want to go for the Single Origin (hot ¥480, iced ¥520), which features a different kind of leaf every month. The tea for April is koshun from Shizuoka prefecture – a fragrant variety that's sure to prove addictive – sourced straight from the farm, with Uni Stand's owner involved throughout the process. To make the perfect brew, the tea leaves are alternatively placed in cold and warm water, with the process repeated about three times.
Sakura season may be over, but with this shrine to green tea in the neighbourhood, taking a relaxing stroll through Inokashira Park should be very well worth it.