As it is said that drinking some tea which has been picked 88 days after the February 4th spring equinox will bring you longevity, green tea loving people tend to particularly flock to local tea retailers around beginning of May, when such green tea first harvest of the year (Shincha, or New Tea) arrives to the store. Click here for some more information on Shincha
I am neither the superstitious kind nor too concerned about living more than I should, but I love keeping with local tradition, so I went to "Tsukimasa" the other day, a green tea shop and cafe that has been in business since 1978. The place is famous in the neighborhood for being a haven of peace in the sometimes overwhelmingly bustling Shimokitazawa, so it was a little unfortunate to find out when we sat at our table that the rather cheap sound system was playing some weird and unfitting bossanova music. I would definitely have preferred this kind:
Despite the fact we initially went in for an attempt at living longer, we actually set our eyes on the beautifully green colored powdered tea "Matcha" jelly, served with a glass of cold Mugicha (Roasted barley tea) (set at ¥580).
The Matcha powder they use at Tsukimasa comes from the long-established tea retailer "Yamamasa-Koyamaen" in the region of Uji (Kyoto prefecture), and it makes for a wonderful jelly. The color of the dish is vivid and the fresh creme they add on top of it right before serving makes the "dessert" look like a nice piece of abstract art. As I said it in another post, after so many years in this country, I still keep being amazed by the aestheticism of Japanese cuisine.
Besides its aesthetic virtue, the fresh creme also works as smoothing the rather sweet jelly. And since the white liquid adheres well to its partner, it makes it easy to enjoy the combination. One interesting thing about this dish is that Tsukimasa manages to keep the powdery aspect of the Matcha, even in this jelly form. Try it: you will feel more and more powder in your mouth as you get to the bottom of the cup.
The glass of Mugicha was VERY good, with a very pungent roast flavor, almost tasting like a cup of iced coffee. I definitely recommend it.
Tsukimasa also has an array of Japanese teas which you can all try in the shop. Nothing is cheap here, but it's good. I just wish you have a different music when you visit the store.
They surprisingly have a smoking section at the end of the store, but they succeed in keeping the smoke-free section's air "clean" so no worries to you non-smokers.
They also sell all sort of teas, and tea-related crafts, like the pretty tea boxes at the top of the post, so if you need to do some of your last-minute shopping, that's an option.
Tsukimasa is open everyday from noon to 21:00pm Monday to Saturday, and 11:00am to 21:00pm on Sundays and National holidays
Setagaya-ku, Daizawa 5-28-16
Click here for a MAP