Traditional tea ceremonies need an expert to perform, could be pricey, and may take hours. For the traveler that wants to enjoy high quality tea and a light meal with sweets but also has a budget with money or time, Tea Lounge Tamazawa is your answer. Conveniently located in Sendai’s downtown shopping arcades, it makes a perfect getaway to relax from shopping or place to unwind with good company. There are several Tamazawa shops in Sendai; some just sell confectionaries, while others you can sit down. I am sharing my experience with the Ichibancho location.
The first floor of Tamazawa is not even a lounge at all but a confectionary shop. A glass counter occupies a whole wall, staffed by welcoming and knowledgeable sales staff. Let your eyes wander the pinks, whites, and greens of spring that you can eat all year round. Being Japanese sweets, you can expect flavors to be not too sweet, subtle, and paired well with tea. Make it past temptation and show yourself to the second floor via the staircase in the back of the store.
As I was being shown my seat next to the window overlooking the pedestrian mall I saw three women in kimono enjoying afternoon tea together at a nearby table. I knew I was in the right place. Simple art and soft classical music added to the atmosphere and made me feel like I was dining somewhere sophisticated, but at the same time other guests were dressed casually and prices were reasonable so anyone would feel relaxed. The whole restaurant is no smoking, which is also appreciated.
The lounge offers the expected various teas, including matcha made by whisking green tea powder. Also, the lounge sells food. I decided on the seasonal set meal which was advertised outside the entrance of the first floor. These set lunches are great to experience the flavors of the season, but at the same time take note that most do not include green tea or any drink for that matter. Spending about 1200 yen on my meal, I didn’t want to pay more for a beverage. Of course, there is complimentary water.
Regarding the food, it is top-notch. Delicate flavors meant I enjoyed each bite of my meal while relaxing my mind. Compare that to a family restaurant where I would be chatting loudly as I woof down as much as I can if I ordered the viking (all-you-can-eat) option. At the lounge, rice with almonds, seasonal vegetables, a simple soup, and fruits for dessert left me very satisfied. However, I think for the same price I would rather eat somewhere else.
I would recommend Tea Lounge Tamazawa for their tea and sweets. The location is convenient, the atmosphere relaxing, and it is popular with locals but at the same time not too crowded. On the other hand, if you are just interested in the sweet stuff, skip the lounge all together and pick up some confectioneries on the first floor.