Dotted around Shizuoka City, you can find a host of various green tea cafes, shops and restaurants. There are some, though, that stand above the rest, and which should be on your itinerary whether you are visiting or living in the city. These cafes are testament to the fact that Shizuoka Prefecture is one of Japan's top green tea producers!
Gasho-an Cafe & Store
Nestled alongside the western bank of the Abe River, a short drive from Shizuoka train station, you can find the Gasho-an Cafe & Store inside the main office of the Oyaizu Green Tea Production Company. Gasho-an is one of the most popular tea cafes in all of Shizuoka, particularly amongst young ladies thanks to their exquisite fusion of green tea into modern cuisine.
Now, you've probably heard of green tea flavored ice cream, or have even been able to try some yourself, but this cafe takes green tea infusion to the creative heights that even Dr. Seuss with his green eggs & ham would be amazed. That's right, in addition to the multitude of green tea dessert sweets on offer, at this cafe you can order green tea infused pasta, or even a green tea infused omelette over green tea infused rice!
At first try, your brain isn't quite sure what to make of it, but even though the color is rich in appearance, the taste of green tea is delicate and precedes a feeling of elegance. The fusion has been masterfully crafted to reveal the quality of the local green tea, while providing a deliciously filling flavor. The creamy & cheesy mushroom sauce, for example, provides a canvas for the green tea to shine, leaving a sure impression, and a memory to talk about at future culinary discussions.
To top it all off, you have the chance to indulge yourself in a wickedly delicious green tea parfait ice cream. Trust me, it doesn't last long. Nom nom nom... After stuffing yourself with lunch and sweets, enjoy the attached shop and pick up a variety of tea products including sweets to go. I sincerely recommend the Nama-Marifuku, freshly-made rice cakes stuffed with matcha cream! Oh boy, do they hit the spot!
Cha-machi Kinzaburo tea shop & cafe
Closer to the city lies the legendary Cha-machi Kinzaburo tea shop & cafe. Why legendary? Well... Cha-machi literally means 'tea town' and befitting its name, was once the center of the green tea industry of Japan. Even now, green tea across the country is brought here for the morning premier tea auction with tea blenders combining leaves from a variety of regions to make the finest of teas. The tea from each region differs in color, flavor, sweetness, and bitterness with the masters here blending them together to create tea of the highest quality.
It makes sense then that Cha-machi is home to many master blenders, one of whom runs the Kinzaburo cafe & shop. The master blender is always happy to teach visitors about the wonders of their product and it's importance in Japanese history. The second floor is home to the cafe when you can try first-hand the highest quality of green tea, freshly blended and attentively matured alike.
Alongside the cafe is the opportunity to have a free tasting of the various green tea regions of Shizuoka. Experiencing the diversity of flavors produced here, the master blender gives an overview of each tea, and what went into the process of blending to make each of them. Bee sure to try their signature Chaffle, a green tea waffle snack, or choose from the multitude of other sweets available here.
The green tea industry is not only still alive in Shizuoka, but is also thriving through adaptation to modern life and discovery of new blends of tea and infusions with food. The masters continue to master!