In the southern outskirts of Kyoto lies the beautiful city of Uji. Uji is famous for its matcha green tea, and Uji City's Taiho-an Teahouse is a living proof of how important it is to the city. Taiho-an is a tea house dedicated to sharing and spreading knowledge about matcha and tea ceremony. Located right beside the Uji City Tourist Center, it is about a twenty-minute walk away from JR Uji Station and about a ten-minute walk away from Byodo-in Temple.
For an entrance fee of ¥500 yen, you can experience the beauty and essence of a Tea Ceremony at Taiho-an. The entrance ticket can be purchased at the counter in the Tourist Center. "Taiho-an” translates literally into “teahouse across from the phoenix,” and it got this name because it is situated directly across from the Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in Temple. As Taiho-an is located right beside the Uji Municipal Tourist Center, one can attend the Tea Ceremony Demonstration at Taiho-an and learn how delicious Matcha is created, after having sampled a free drink of Hot Matcha at the Tourist Center.
In Japan, matcha green tea is not simply green tea. The matcha tea ceremony is an important part of Japanese culture, representing the peacefulness and grace of Japanese core values and beliefs. The tea ceremony is a demonstration of mindfulness, and so, the ceremony is performed in silence.
The admission fee to Taiho-an of ¥500 includes sampling of a dessert - an azuki or red bean wagashi was served during my visit - and a bowl of freshly stirred Matcha. The color of the Matcha served was one of the greenest I have ever seen - the color is dark and rich, a sign that the matcha is of high quality. The taste was also beyond what I had expected. As the Matcha hits your tongue, it tastes a bit bitter, and as you let it sit on your taste buds, the aftertaste releasing a gentle, sweet flavor. The Matcha is so creamy that it tastes almost like it has already been made into a latte of some sort! And even better, the Matcha was created during a proper Tea Ceremony demonstration right front of your eyes by a lovely lady dressed in a Yukata, making the taste even more special.
If you’re in Uji, be sure to drop by Taiho-an for a relaxing experience for your eyes and for your palate.