The small city of Uji, ust south of Kyoto, has a pretty big reputation despite its small size. Uji is renowned all over Japan for two things: the Byodo-in Temple and tea! The people of the Kansai especially believe Uji’s is the best in Japan. All along the Uji River are many teashops and cafes. Among those tea places, is Tsuen Tea [通園], which can not only boast fantastic tea, but is the oldest tea house in the world!
Tsuen Tea Shop began a long time ago…1160 to be exact. Its founder was a samurai who served the famous General Minamoto no Yorimasa, but quit his charge as a samurai, changed his name to “Tsuen” and decided to live in Uji. There along the banks of the Uji River he opened the teashop that now bares his name.
As Tsuen was enjoying his new life serving tea, he heard that his former, Minamoto no Yorimasa, was in a conflict with the Tiara clan. Still feeling old ties of fidelity to Minamoto, Tsuen decided to join the fighting. This decision unfortunately cost him his life along side Minamoto in the Byodo-in.
After Tsuen died, his family took over the teashop and business continued to flourish. Over the years many Japanese famous generals, such as Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, stopped by Tsuen’s teashop. Eventually, the Tsuen family became the gatekeepers of the Uji Bridge.
Tea at Tsuen
Today, at Tsuen Tea Shop, you can not only buy high quality Uji tea but also enjoy nice tea sweets. The shop is located right in front of Kenyan Uji Station.
They have a variety of teas to choose from including sencha, ryokucha and matcha but make sure to try matcha as it is the best way to enjoy tea.
Another one of their more popular dessert items is the matcha parfait. The bitterness of matcha and sweetness of cream are well matched and it is very tasty!!
Tsuen Tea Shop
Uji Higashiuchi 1, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture
A minute from Keihan Uji Station
~ 1000 yen