You have to go all the way to Kyoto to taste these decorative desserts, but a matcha medley this magnificent more than merits the trip!
If you’re a Japan fanatic there’s one classic flavor you’ll want to get acquainted with as soon as possible: matcha. Originating in its first form in China in the seventh century, it was brought to Japan about four centuries later by monks and steadily brewed into the cultural tour de force we know it as today. Sweets, ice cream and even ramen feature the finely ground green tea as a main ingredient – and if you’re especially matcha mad you’ll definitely want to go to Kyoto, Japan’s green tea capital.
Itohkyuemon is one of the specialty matcha teahouses you can find in Kyoto, and they’re serving up a seasonal special that we just had to try!
▼ What does Itohkyuemon have in store for June…?
June is famously known in Japan as tsuyu, or the rainy season, and it’s a time when you can find rich purple and blue hydrangeas cropping up throughout the country. The hydrangeas in Kyoto’s Mimurotoji temple are especially beautiful, and are on display up until the end of June – just like this specialty menu. Hydrangeas serve as this menu’s main inspiration, so you can look forward to deep violets and oceanic blues to complement your traditional Uji matcha green.
▼ A typical Japanese hydrangea bush.
y-sekine せきね (@sekine1991317) June 04, 2019
We sent our reporter on the ground, Great Muromachi, to enjoy these floral fancies in our stead. He hastened to the chain’s flagship shop in Uji, hoping to test all of the new menu offerings – the availability does vary by branch, so double check the website before starting your pilgrimage.
The Uji store was bustling with customers despite it being a weekday, and no wonder. Great Muromachi perused the special menu…
▼ Ajisai means “hydrangea”. Yuzushizuku is a gelatinous, sweet mochi flavored with Asian citrus.
With the hydrangea parfait costing 1,280 yen (US$11.80) on its own, you can pay more to add a drink or sweet mochi to the experience. Great