French wine – and now tea – sommelier Stéphane Danton is giving ryokucha (green tea) a modern twist. Using his finely honed palate, Danton is infusing the tea with a range of aromas ranging from the sweet to the floral and the fruity. The drink’s inherent taste and character is made more pronounced through the gentle aroma infusions.
Ocharaka looks like a tea library, with large boxes of loose leaf tea – 57 different types in total plus several seasonal options – lining its walls. It sources its tea exclusively from small farms across Japan; like wine, tea has terroir differences so while tea from Japan’s southern prefectures, such as Kagoshima, is popular for its sweet yet umami flavours, tea from Saitama (north of Tokyo) is less sweet but richer and stronger in taste.
With his keen understanding of global tea culture, Danton is able to offer aromatic tea suited to the preferences of different customers. Raspberry-flavoured tea is especially popular among German tourists, peach flavour is a hit with Chinese customers, and British and American shoppers tend to like the mint chocolate variety. If you’re looking for classic Japanese flavours instead, Danton also provides yuzu citrus, sakura, yakiimo (roasted sweet potato) or ramune (Japanese lemon soda) flavoured teas.