Tag Archives: 抹茶

Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with a Glass of Green Matcha Beer at Otani-Chaen Tea Shop, Inari!

If you happen to be in Kyoto on Saint Patrick’s Day and are wondering how to celebrate (other than heading to an Irish Pub and getting hammered) – here’s something new.

This traditional Japanese tea shop in Inari has a novel suggestion for Ireland’s national day.

I was strolling through the Fushimi Inari area today when I happened to spy this sign.

The sign suggests celebrating Ireland’s most important holiday, with a glass of beer, flavored and colored with matcha tea. I was immediately intrigued. So I went home, changed into some suitably green attire, and cajoled Mewby into coming along with a promise of matcha ice cream.

The tea shop, Ujicha  Otani-Chaen, is a 70-year old family business run by a friendly gentleman named  Otani Hideyuki. Their main product is fine green tea from the nearby tea-growing fields of Uji. However, also on the menu are both matcha flavored beer, and matcha-flavored non-alcoholic beer. Guess which one I chose…

First Mr Otani mixes up a fresh bowl of matcha. Then he mixes it into the beer. That second part of the process though, is a trade secret, so we can’t show you that here.

And the result is indeed a very vivid emerald green!

There’s definitely a whiff of the shamrock about this glass… But how does it taste?

To my surprise – not bad at all! The beer used at the Otani-Chaen shop is the Japanese salaryman’s beer-of-choice: Asahi. Asahi has a crisp but subtle flavor, so the added bitterness of the matcha tea really does dominate. In other words, if you like matcha tea, you will probably enjoy this beer.

A big thumbs up from Mikey Lambe

And they were good enough to serve it up with a couple of cubes of cheddar cheese which compliment it nicely.

Is that the green, white and gold that I see before me?

If you don’t like beer, you can always order a matcha flavored ice cream instead (like Mewby). I’m told it’s very good.

A glass of matcha beer at Otani-Chaen costs 500 yen. Alcohol-free beer is 380 yen. And a matcha ice cream is 280 yen. They also sell a range of fine teas, which make for very good local souvenirs. The shop is just a hop, skip and jump from Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. If you walk north on Honmachi Doori Street after exiting the shrine, you will see it on the west side of the street after about 150 meters. Here is a MAP of the location. The shop is open every day from 9.30 – 19.30.

All that remains to be said is – wherever you are in the world on March 17th – a very happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you!

Sláinte!

Matcha Tea & Machiya in Kyoto – Two Articles for GuideAdvisor

Whether you are interested in tea ceremony or traditional architecture, two pieces I wrote for GuideAdvisor earlier this year, offer my top tips for for your trip to Kyoto.

ga machiya

The first article is on how to find the very best machiya:  the traditional wooden townhouses of Kyoto. After decades of neglect and outright destruction, machiya have been undergoing something of a boom in popularity in recent years.

Climb a hill on the outskirts of Kyoto, and you’ll look upon a city transformed. Fifty years ago, you would have seen a sea of low lying tiled rooftops, and here and there a shrine, temple or villa rising up like islands lapped by baked tile waves. Machiya, the old wooden townhouses most closely associated with the city of Kyoto in Japan, covered the landscape… Machiya were the houses of merchants and craftsmen, designed to be lived and worked in. Long sturdy structures of simple grace, they closely lined the city’s narrow streets, the style of lattice-work at front giving tell-tale notice of the business within. Today that old skyline, with its sweeping sea of tiles has gone, and the cityscape initially presents to the eye a jumble of gray and brown apartment blocks, city offices, and pachinko parlors. If you go and explore the city though, the older more traditional buildings are still there, down amidst the looming towers of modernity, and their dark wooden beams and refined latticework still enchant us with the flavour of old Kyoto.

You can read the rest of the article here: Looking for the Lost Machiya Buildings in Kyoto.

ga matcha

My second piece is a guide to enjoying matcha tea in the ancient capital, whether in traditional tea ceremony, or in the many matcha flavored food products that are on sale here.

Due to the close vicinity of Uji’s tea fields Kyoto has a long association with matcha tea: the powdered green tea used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The monk Eisai first brought this powdered tea from China to Japan in 1191, along with Zen Buddhism, and the two traditions have been closely linked ever since.

In Kyoto, Eisai founded the city’s oldest Zen temple, Kenninji, and on its grounds you can find a teahouse designed by the legendary 16th Century tea master Sen no Rikyu, who is responsible for developing the refined tea ceremony that we know today. Called variously Chado, Sado or Cha-no-yu, this ceremony ritualizes the act of preparing, sharing, and tasting tea into a slow, meditative process that emphasizes simplicity, grace and serenity. Yet despite the simplicity of the ceremony itself, the Way of Tea is intimately bound up with many other traditional arts such as calligraphy, ceramics, flower arrangement, and Japanese cuisine. So if you want a gateway into Japanese culture and philosophy, a cup of matcha tea is where you start!

You can read the rest of the article here: Go Green in Kyoto! Enjoy the Famous Tea Ceremony Then See How a New Generation is Serving up Matcha

And while you are about it, why not check out pro-photographer Paul Crouse‘s piece on the 10 Best Photo Spots in Kyoto.

See also: The Health Benefits of Japanese Green Tea