Best Matcha Desserts in Kyoto, Japan

Tea popularised by Buddhist monk Eisai that was crushed into powder, brewed in boiling water, and then whisked, has satiated the palates of tea drinkers or caffeine addicts worldwide. This is matcha which has been one of the strongest tourist magnets in Japan, especially in Kyoto due to its birth in Uji. Matcha is often referred to as “Japanese espresso” and is hailed as one of the largest food culture representatives of Japan.

With that, here are several shops that serve the best matcha desserts one can find in Kyoto.

1. Tsujirihei Honten in Uji, Kyoto

2. Saryo Tsujiri in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

3. MACCHA HOUSE MACCHA-KAN in Kiyomizu, Kyoto

4. GOCHIO Cafe in Uji, Kyoto

5. Nana’s Green Tea in Nishikujo Toriiguchicho, Kyoto

1. Tsujirihei Honten in Uji, Kyoto

The name Tsujiri is surely all too familiar to most matcha enthusiasts out there with its global outlets as well as regular returns as pop-up stores in selected countries such as Singapore. With over 160 years of history, Tsujirihei Honten was founded in 1860 by Rihei. At only 17 years old, he invested in a 30-acre tea plantation before tirelessly upgrading high-quality green teas, one of which is powdered green tea or matcha.

To make the stone-ground matcha, a stone miller is used to grind tea leaves extracted from a foggy tea-growing spot next to the Uji River. This untouched freshness of the matcha imparts an unmatched vegetal, aromatic profile and a deep emerald green color in the store’s matcha desserts.

One of the best-sellers is the Seasonal Mont Blanc which is constructed out of cookie dough paved with French almond cream and chestnut cream. The entire creamy pile is enveloped in a matcha cream mixed with marron glacé, before being topped with Hokkaido-grown red beans for some crunch factor.

Credits: hanako.0814 @ Instagram

For those who want their taste buds swimming in an authentic, robust matcha flavor-fest, Tsujirihei Honten’s matcha parfaits are the elixir to that. You can customize your parfait by choosing which tidbits to add to your velvety matcha soft serve. Matcha crunch, creamy matcha chiffon cake, and mochi are just a few options that seal in the fragrance and mellow grassy sweetness of Uji matcha.

Credits: maccha_lover @ Instagram

Some of the components can be served as a separate but bigger-sized dessert, such as the creamy matcha Swiss roll which is a classic favorite among matcha cake lovers. The roll has a thick layer of rich matcha cream sandwiched in between a matcha cake layer, and mini red beans scattered throughout the cream.

Credits: pyon_mogumogu @ Instagram

2. Saryo Tsujiri in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

For travelers with luggage who are looking for a quick pick-me-up, worry no more as a modern-looking matcha store awaits you. Located on the 6th floor of Kyoto Isetan within the Kyoto Station building itself, Saryo Tsujiri has been a welcome stop for thousands of tourists every year.

Since it was founded in 1860 in Uji, the store has been committed to premium quality taste. Out of the many products on the menu, the towering matcha parfaits are the number one must-tries for every Matchaholic out there. Each parfait holds around 9 to 11 different ingredients that complement one another in terms of texture and taste, from moist matcha castella cake cubes to chewy Shiratama Kinako Kuromitsu (glutinous roasted bean rice balls).

Credits: sharingkyoto @ Instagram

Shaved ice with matcha ice cream and jellies, an example of the other items on the menu (Credits: Natedoesfood @ Instagram)

There are also plenty of special limited parfaits that are made suited for Kyoto’s dynamic 4 seasons, such as the Cherry Blossom and Matcha Parfait to embody the autumn season during which cherry blossoms bloom galore.

Credits: Daniel Food Diary

To sum up, an enriching tea experience, pop over to the gift corner at the store to purchase tea-infused products as toothsome souvenirs! Examples include tea bags and snacks such as matcha cream biscuits.

Credits: Teaover

3. MACCHA HOUSE MACCHA-KAN in Kiyomizu, Kyoto

Situated around 500 meters from the Kiyomizudera Temple, Maccha House is popular for its Uji matcha tiramisu which comes encased in a traditional masu box. Every year, around a whopping 365,000 servings of tiramisu are sold globally, with snake-like queues for up to 4 hours in Kyoto alone.

Credits: debbiiiiish @ Instagram

Diving into the box, we have vanilla chiffon and matcha sponge nestled in a generous serving of custard-like mascarpone cream. The dessert is finished off with a dusting of premium Kyoto’s “Morihan” matcha powder which is packed with more than 170 years of history. The overall flavor profile leans towards the sweeter, milkier side which is recommended for first-time matcha samplers who might not be able to handle too much matcha at one go.

Besides the tiramisu, Maccha House is known for its wide selection of matcha parfaits too. These creative concoctions include ingredients that meld well with the tannic matcha soft serve. Crunchy rice puffs, Warabimochi, red bean paste, and airy matcha Espuma are just some examples.

Credits: matchaescapade @ Instagram

4. GOCHIO Cafe in Uji, Kyoto

Opening its doors for the first time in 2016, this café is directly operated by Chaen Shimizuya which has cultivated and manufactured “Tencha”, the raw material of the finest matcha, since the Edo period.

Unlike many other shops in the matcha business which blend their matcha, GOCHIO Cafe offers natural matcha made by tea farmers. This can be seen in the higher vegetal character of matcha flavor in its matcha desserts. Furthermore, no fragrance, coloring agents, or other types of additives are used to preserve the original gustatory beauty of matcha. Due to these traits, the café has bagged 12 awards as of 2022, including multiple first prizes at the Kansai Tea Competition and the National Tea Competition.

One of the best-sellers is the roasted matcha crepe. It comprises a paper-thin tasty crepe folding over a layer of rich matcha cream, decorated with matcha chocolate sauce, an even richer matcha ice cream, and red bean paste.

Credits: gohiocafe @ Instagram

Another popular dessert is the matcha tea affogato which has a cornucopia of ingredients, from matcha chocolate, cream, and cake to diced almonds and rice puffs. The matcha ice cream itself was bittersweet but delicious, sweetened by the vanilla bean ice cream.

Credits: gohiocafe @ Instagram

If you are craving a matcha treat that screams sweet yet savory, you would be impressed by the matcha French toast that is a highly raved-about breakfast at this café. The bread slices are soft and fluffy, fried in scrambled eggs before being drenched in matcha sauce and a dusting of matcha powder which accentuate the matcha profile of the ice cream.

Credits: gohiocafe @ Instagram

5. Nana’s Green Tea in Nishikujo Toriiguchicho, Kyoto

One of the store’s main matcha suppliers is the long-established Kyoto tea producer Yamamasa Koyamaen who owns a tea plantation in Uji. With their passion for selling only the best tea flavors above all else, they have contributed to the growth of Uji-grown tea since 1600.

Indeed, the matcha offered is an original combination that has been improved time and time again. To turn tea leaves into matcha, traditional techniques passed down since the Edo period, coupled with the refined sensibilities of generations of craftsmen, are employed. As a result, the matcha products served are marked by a refreshing fragrance and a mellow mouthfeel with tinges of umami bitterness; traits that are ideal in a matcha dessert.

To start with something rather light, the Matcha Warabi Ice is kneaded delicately with a direct flame to deliver chewy jelly-like cubes. The cathartic bittersweetness of matcha pairs well with the elegant sweetness of the white honey condiment.

Credits: nanasgreentea_official @ Instagram

Another addictive snack is Matcha Nama Chocolate. While the original matcha blend is mellow in its bitterness, this matcha raw chocolate is slightly more bitter to prevent the white chocolate taste from overpowering the matcha taste. Do take your time to savor the wondrous fudge-like chocolates to enjoy the overflowing intensity of matcha.

Credits: nanasgreentea_official @ Instagram

Not forgetting about the Matcha Gateau Chocolate, this cake is made with a white chocolate base that is still concentrated in matcha character. This is more suited for those who prefer denser or fudge-like cakes since it can be quite surfeiting for others.

Credits: nanasgreentea_official @ Instagram

If you would like a taste of multiple matcha treats at one go, there are several matcha parfaits (yup, you guessed it) for you to choose from. For instance, the Matcha Nama Chocolate Parfait allows you to have matcha chocolate, matcha warabi, and other components to complement your matcha ice cream.

Credits: __rizuki @ Instagram

Other must-tries include the matcha floats, each comprising a heavenly mixture of strong matcha latte and luscious soft cream or ice cream. This is perfect if you are not that hungry after a full meal but still want to enjoy some sweet matcha. You can customize the beverage with additional toppings or sauces or a different ice cream flavor such as Hojicha or black sesame.

Credits: nanasgreentea_official @ Instagram

If you are interested in Japanese food, you can also read our post on how often does Japanese eat sushi and it will surprise you.

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