In the heart of Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo, a luxurious new experience awaits tea enthusiasts and curious visitors alike. Welcome to the Sakurai Tea Experience, a new type of bar where traditional tea ceremonies are reimagined as modern, sensory journeys. Here, you have the option to indulge in a curated tea course, sip on tea-infused spirits, or explore a menu of innovative tea-based cocktails. As you settle into your seat around a perfectly comfortable wooden bar, you become an audience to a mesmerizing performance: a tea master, who moves with both precision and fluidity, crafting the perfect drink before your eyes.
But the experience doesn't stop at tea. The attached tea room offers not just exquisite gyokuro and freshly roasted teas, but also unique tea courses and tea-infused sake, accompanied by traditional Japanese sweets.
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About Sakurai Tea Experience
The vision behind this extraordinary venue stems from its founder, Shinya Sakurai, who previously managed the esteemed Japanese restaurant Yakumo Saryo and the confectionery shop Higashiya (which specialises in wagashi and it's located in Ginza). Striking out on his own in 2014, he first opened the Sakurai Tea Experience with the aim of elevating the stature of Japanese tea and pioneering new ways to enjoy it. The store sells a curated selection of teas from around the world, in-house roasted teas, and seasonal blends featuring domestically sourced natural ingredients.
The Sakurai Tea Experience is far more than a mere retail outlet for pre-packaged teas. It's an immersive bar where you can relish freshly whisked matcha, partake in artisanal tea-infused cocktails, and savour exquisite teas accompanied by traditional wagashi sweets. Take a seat at the SABO (8 seats at the counter) and watch it all unfold right in front of your eyes.
The Sakurai Tea Experience - Day time
The day time menu is available weekdays between 11:00 - 19:00. The day time Sakurai Tea Experience is all about teas rather than liqueurs.
You can order a tea course which includes Gyokuro, Blended tea, Hojicha, Matcha, Wagashi, or you can choose your favourite tea and the staff will brew up to 3 cups of tea for you. If you are after something a little stronger, go for their Tea and Liqueur Course which includes Gyokuro, Blended tea, four Tea Liqueurs varieties and Wagashi.
Want to pick the most interesting liquers from the menu? You can. You have 18 different types of tea made using different methods, each infused with a matching liquor. I recommend the Sencha Gin, the Sannenbancha Gin and the Genmaicha Whisky.
The Sakurai Tea Experience - Bar time
As daylight fades into evening in Tokyo, the Sakurai Tea Experience undergoes a transformation into a nocturnal haven for cocktail enthusiasts. Between the hours of 19:00 and 23:00 (with last orders taken at 22:00), you get to enter the fascinating world of liqueurs, where tea infused cocktails take the stage.
The courses from the day menu are still available to purchase, but it's the cocktails that usually beckon after dark. You will find signature cocktails like Gyokuro Martini made with Vodka/Gyokuro/Lillet Blanc or Hojicha Toddy made with Sweet Potato Shochu/Hojicha/Rose/Cinnamon.
There are also 13 different cocktails to pick from, each with a delicious mixture of tea infused spirits including gin, whiskey, tequila, rum, or vodka.
Please note that for the Bar time Sakurai Tea Experience, after 7:00 PM, a 500 yen cover charge will be charged for each person.
Our Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience
The instant we stepped into the Sakurai Tea Experience, we were greeted by an intoxicating aroma of tea. Directly ahead, a tea master was carefully roasting leaves. We were promptly escorted to the counter, where we were given a menu, an oshibori towel, and a small serving of chilled green tea as refreshment.
The counter is home to eight comfy wooden chairs, all with back support and cushioned seats for that extra touch of comfort. We're on the 5th floor here, and the tea room opens up to a fantastic display of Tokyo's buildings. It's especially magical when the sun sets and the city lights come on. Right at the counter, you'll see tea utensils, including a steaming Japanese Chagama and a bamboo water ladle.
As for the room's design, it's minimalistic but with a nod to traditional materials. You'll find a mix of textures like copper, wood, glass, and ceramics. Put them all together, and you get an ambiance and vibe that feels both welcoming and high-class.
We had our reservation for 19:30 so we arrived in time for the bar menu. While we were tempted to try the liquor course, we decided to have two cocktails each instead. Just a quick note that the menu is seasonal. We arrived for the autumn menu which had specific cocktails and types of wagashi on it. You might have different spirits and cocktails when you decide to visit. We love that Japan is all about seasonality.
We ordered the Signature Gin Tonic for my husband with No.1 Sencha Gin/Tonic water/Soda. We also got the Sannenbancha Gin/Sansho/Lime.
My cocktail was short, but it definitely won. It was delicious and punchy, full of flavour. Sansho is a Japanese type of pepper and combined with the green tea infused gin, it was absolute glory.
On the second course, Greg ordered a Goishicha Tequila with Crème de Cassis de Dijon and I ordered a Genmaicha Whisky with matcha. On this round, I loved my cocktail most, whereas Greg loved his. It was love at first sip. We also got some wagashi each, which perfectly complemented our drinks.
While waiting to pay the bill, we were offered a complementary course of freshly roasted hojicha as a thank you for our custom.
The Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience is a high-end bar, and a destination for those seeking a unique tea journey. While the drink prices are on the higher end by Tokyo standards, they're actually quite reasonable when stacked up against similar experiences in international cities like London or New York.
For 4 cocktails, two wagashi, and our cover charge, our total bill came to just under 9500 yen which is roughly $63 or £52.
Tips and Recommendations
- Timing Matters: If your main goal is to experience the tea course, aim to arrive during daytime hours to dodge the cover charge.
- Book Ahead: The bar time is popular and with only eight seats at the counter, reservations are highly recommended.
- Consult the Experts: If you're unsure what to order, don't hesitate to chat with the tea masters. They can personalize your experience based on your taste preferences.
- Open Your Palate: Don't assume you won't like a drink based on its components. For instance, even if you're not a whiskey fan, you might find the tea-infused whiskey with matcha to be a revelation. It really worked for me.
- Dress the Part: This is a high-end spot, so smart casual attire is advisable.
- Photography Etiquette: Feel free to take photos, but please be respectful of others' privacy and avoid capturing other patrons in your shots.
- Mind Your Volume: The atmosphere is intimate, so while you don't have to whisper, keeping your conversation at a moderate volume is appreciated.
- Savour the Show: Take a moment to watch the tea masters in action. Their meticulous and theatrical preparation is part of what makes this experience special. And this is ultimately what you pay a premium for.
- Take a Piece Home: If a particular tea captures your heart, consider purchasing some to enjoy later as a delightful souvenir.
The Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience is located on the 5th floor of the Spiral shopping centre in Minami-aoyama Minato-ku, Tokyo. You can use Google maps for easiest access and directions.
Monday - Friday: 11 AM–11 PM
Weekends: 11 AM–8 PM
Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience
スパイラルビル, 5F, 5-chōme-6-23 Minamiaoyama, Minato City📞 Contact
Omote-Sando Station (Directions)🕥 Opening Hours
Monday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Thursday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Friday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does the Sakurai tea Experience cost?
The tea course with Gyokuro, blended tea, roasted tea, Matcha, Japanese sweets costs ¥5,220〜, whereas the liquor tea course with Gyokuro/Blended Tea/ Four Tea Liqueurs varieties/Wagashi costs ¥6,230〜. Individual teas and cocktails start from ¥1,620〜