I had just returned from a week's vacation from Nagoya, Japan. I always loved Japanese food, and upon landing in Nagoya and checking my bags at the hotel, I rushed over to Unagi Horaiken, queued for more than an hour for my table to enjoy the famous Unagi set meal. Unagi is roasted eel, and the preparation of this dish at that restaurant was magnificent.
I spent most of my Japanese holidays outside the city of Nagoya including staying 2 days in Shrirakawa, a Unesco world heritage site where this town had very well preserved Gasso-zukuri, which are farmhouses that are characterize by steep thatched roofs. It was a fun 2 night stay at one of these farmhouse, where the proprietor personally cooked meals for all her guests.
I also stayed in Takamaya, another old town where I chanced upon this tea shop. This tea shop only sells Japanese tea. Green tea are sold as loose tea leaves in packets of 50g. The shop also has roasted Japanese tea known as Hojicha, also sold as loose tea leaves. Lastly the shop has matcha, which is grounded green tea (think face powder). Matcha is normally prepared in a large bowl and the tea drinker need a traditional tea whisk (chasen) to whipped up a creamy froth, making the tea a very refreshing drink. The matcha sold here were packed in 30g packets. In that shop, there were 3 grades of tea, whether green, roasted or matcha tea. You can select from standard, No.2 or No.1 grade. I bought their top grade tea except for matcha, I purchased their No. 2 as I felt a little fishy scent in their top grade matcha. I am happy I had also purchased similar amounts of tea from a few more Japanese tea shops, while on my trip, and I look forward to brewing them and learning more about the various grades of tea.
Though the proprietor of the tea shop could not speak English and I could not speak Japanese, I felt we had a common connection with the tea. He described his higher grades matcha's aroma as very long, stretching out his arms. He also reminded me to brew with 90 degree celsius water and to keep my tea in a refrigerator.
This tea shop also sells green tea ice-cream. He even sprinkled my ice-cream with matcha, which made this treat a very enjoyable snack.