Imagine stepping into a serene oasis in the heart of bustling Fukuoka, where tradition meets modernity and every sip of tea tells a story. Welcome to Saryo Yamashina, located in Akasaka. Curated by tea professionals with a longstanding history as tea wholesalers, this establishment isn’t just another tea shop; it’s an experience.
The moment you settle into the cozy counter seats, you’re embraced by calming ambient lighting and soothing background music, crafting a sensory experience even before your first sip.
At the helm of this establishment is Yasunari Yamashina. Not only is he the face behind the longstanding “Yamashina Tea Shop”, which has been in the family since his grandfather’s days, but he’s also recognized as a Japanese tea appraiser – an esteemed title in the world of Japanese tea. Yasunari isn’t just a merchant; he’s an explorer of flavors. He personally investigates the best tea-producing regions, selects tea leaves that are then crafted by skilled artisans in their workshop, ensuring the highest quality, whether sold straight or as blends.
Kyushu, known for its green tea, has been witnessing a trend where producers prioritize distinct character and quality over sheer quantity. It’s not just about quantity here; it’s about the rich tapestry of flavors, each telling its own story. Recent years have seen a remarkable improvement in Japanese black tea, known as “wakocha,” mirroring the renaissance of Japanese wines.
At Saryo Yamashina, it’s not just about traditional tea drinking. Guests can relish tea processes, from the frothy enjoyment of matcha to sencha’s delicate preparation. Adventurous palates can also indulge in tea-infused gastronomy, whether that means sipping on tea blended with sodas or syrups, or pairing teas with delightful desserts.
Speaking of desserts, there’s an array of choices to complement your tea. One of the highlights is their special course that showcases teas and dishes, where the origin and the face behind each product become part of the narrative. This immersive experience, which requires prior reservation, evolves with the seasons, ensuring fresh, timely ingredients, both in the teas and the accompanying handcrafted desserts.
August Course (reservations required)
• Sunrouge Tea from Tokunoshima, Kagoshima.
• Yame Traditional Authentic Gyokuro from Kuroki, Fukuoka.
• Desserts featuring myoga (Japanese ginger), white sesame from Kikaijima island, and matcha from Yame-produced Okumidori.
• Sencha from Hoshino Village, Fukuoka.
• Dessert: Yokan (a jelly dessert) infused with Saga-grown watermelon and sencha.
• Organic Japanese Black Tea from Yakushima, Kagoshima, paired with White Peach Oolong from Taiwan and KONATSU (New Summer Orange).
• Dessert Parfait: Layered with KONATSU (New Summer Orange), Yamanashi-grown white peach, organic lemongrass from Takeo, Saga, and White Peach Oolong from Taiwan.
• Matcha: A unique Yamashina Blend featuring selections from Fukuoka’s Yame and Kyoto’s Uji.
To give you a taste, their August course offers delights like Sunrouge from Tokunoshima, Kagoshima – a unique green tea that turns a vivid pink when acid is added.
And for dessert enthusiasts, the sweet treats, supervised by the renowned patisserie chef, Toshihiro Tanaka of VERT in Kagurazaka, Tokyo, are masterpieces that visually and gastronomically elevate the entire tea course.
One of Fukuoka’s treasures is the premier Gyokuro, known as Dento Hon Gyokuro (Yame Traditional Gyokuro). This tea, brewed at low temperatures to extract its savory essence, provides an aromatic journey that shifts with every serving. And for a grand finale, dive into Mr. Yamashina’s pièce de résistance – a blended matcha, combining the robust flavors of Kyoto matcha with the aromatic wonders of Yame matcha from Fukuoka.
Taking your tea journey a step further, you’re introduced to tea cocktails. These iced teas captivate with their vivid colors and possess a gentle sweetness, complemented by a light and delightful fragrance that’s simply addictive.
The crowning glory of the course is a parfait, invitingly layered and meant to be savored with an elegant spoon. As you delve into this dessert, blending the different layers elevates the entire concoction to a symphony of contrasting and harmonious tastes.
Lastly, as a perfect conclusion to the roughly 90-minute tea and dessert course, Mr. Yamashina presents his ultimate specialty—a blend (known as “gougumi”) of matcha. This unique blend, achievable only by a true tea connoisseur, marries the solid taste of Kyoto matcha with the exquisite aroma of Yame matcha. Served in a portion about half the size of a typical matcha tea bowl, this matcha provides an intensely aromatic yet precisely refined flavor profile.
Beyond tea, there’s the exquisite meringue dessert, “Vashuran,” adorned with petals of roses from Izumo and juicy mango from Miyazaki – a visual and palate delight that pairs impeccably with a peach oolong + Yakushima black tea + konatsu cocktail.
Those smitten by the flavors can purchase the teas to relish at home. Embracing the freshness of tea has always been cherished in the traditional relationship with tea shops. Here, it’s more than just buying tea; it’s about embracing a lifestyle. With every brew, you discover not only a new flavor but also an emerging culture intertwined with arts, crafts, and gastronomy.
So, for those looking to immerse in an authentic yet contemporary Japanese tea experience, Saryo Yamashina awaits.
Menu (including tax):
• Seasonal Dessert with Tea Course: ¥6,500
• Tea Set with Vashuran Sweets: ¥2,500
• Gyokuro (Premium Green Tea) with Two Types of Tea Sweets: ¥4,300
• Freshly Roasted Hojicha (Roasted Green Tea) with Tea Sweets: ¥2,600
• Matcha Soda: ¥1,100