General Info
Questions About Tea

Find answers to common questions about our teas, shipping, and utensils.

Black storefront of Ippodo Tea's flagship store, tearoom and headquarters in Kyoto, Japan with lush cherry blossom trees

Our teas come from the mountains of Kyoto Prefecture and surrounding areas. This region is renowned for producing the highest quality teas in Japan, thanks to its misty climate, rich soil, and near-perfect balance of sunshine and rainfall.

We produce our teas by selecting and blending harvests from different farms in this region, following three centuries of tradition as a family-owned tea shop in Kyoto. Each blend is decided by our master blender, who is also our president, and our teas are loved for their refined fragrance, delicate sweetness, refreshing bitterness, and balanced character.

From around May to July depending on supplies, you can purchase our freshly harvested sencha Shincha and our New Harvest Matcha, which are both produced solely from that year’s harvest.

The rest of our regular, year-round selection of teas are blended from different harvests of different farms and different years. Our goal for each of these blends is to produce a consistent character, within a narrow range of variation.

We produce year-round original blends as our regular selection. For this lineup of classics in each category, each finished tea is a blend of different harvests from different farms and different years, and there is no specific harvest date.

We produce these blends by slowly and carefully incorporating each year’s harvest into the finished product. This means the flavor and aroma (the character of each blend name) will be within the same narrow range no matter when you purchase the tea throughout the year.

The new harvest of tea has a powerful, just-picked character. (To experience this special character yourself, look for our release of new harvest sencha, Shincha, in summer.)

In our regular selection, we prefer teas with a consistent and relaxed, matured character. To produce this character in the tea, we set aside the new harvest of tea for a period of months, in a freshness-ensuring environment. After its character has developed maturity, depth, and complexity, we begin to add it to the respective blend of tea a little at a time.

Japanese tea naturally has components in it that give a sharp, dry, bitter, and astringent flavor and feel when we drink it. Just like learning to enjoy the bitterness in coffee, learning to enjoy the unique bitterness of authentic green tea can take some time!

We produce tea with a history of being a tea shop in Kyoto for over three centuries, and our president is the latest in line from the family that has run this shop since the beginning. In addition to acting as president, he is in charge of the blending process, and each tea is blended to his specifications. Following with this lineage and history, we expect and enjoy some amount of astringency and bitterness in our teas.

Some people find that the strength of the tea in our recipes is too strong. Our standard brewing instructions are based on our in-house preferences. To make a lighter brew strength, we recommend changing the recipes by reducing the amount of tea leaf, lowering the temperature of your water, and/or brewing for a shorter time.

The best way to store the tea is to place it in a spot avoiding direct contact with the sun, hot temperatures, humidity, and strong smells. Room temperature is fine.

For best results, in between uses roll up the bag holding the tea, clip it closed, and store it on its own or in its can.

For matcha cans, if you are a frequent matcha drinker (around once per day), you can pour the powder from the bag into the can for convenience. Otherwise, we recommend rolling the bag shut and storing it inside the can.

The best-before date for unopened Ippodo tea is written on the barcode sticker on the package in a YYYY.MM.DD format, and is around 6 months from the packaging date. After opening the package, consume the tea soon (within around 1 month) for the freshest flavor and aroma.

There is no hard expiration date for our teas. Keep in mind that even unopened tea will lose its freshness steadily after the 6 months best-before period. For freshness, we often recommend opening and consuming one package at-a-time.

If you have tea that you would like to use beyond the 6 month best-before date, we suggest putting it in the freezer until later. When you are ready to use it, take it out of the freezer, and let it sit at room temperature until it is adjusted, for around 5 hours. (This way the condensation has evaporated and the tea has acclimated.) Then, open the package and use the tea normally. After opening, do not return to the freezer; just use normally and store at room temperature.

All of our matcha varieties are high quality, are great for drinking on their own, and are actually used in the tea ceremony in Japan and around the world.

As a Japanese company, we at Ippodo Tea don’t use the term “ceremonial grade,” since this vague term was invented to market matcha to the West, and it is not used in Japan.

For baking and other similar uses, we often recommend Wakaki or Hatsu. These two matcha blends are also great for drinking straight or in a latte.

Clumps naturally develop in matcha powder, and they are not the sign of a spoiled or defective matcha.

Sifting matcha powder before preparing will break apart these clumps and make it easier to whisk thoroughly. This will improve the texture of your drink and allow you to enjoy a smooth and aromatic bowl of matcha.

All of our teas are harvested in early summer, and the exact harvest date each year depends on the growing conditions. For the farms we select in the mild mountain climate in the Kyoto region, there is only one harvest season each year.

There is no specific harvest date for our teas. Each is a blend, from different farms and different harvest dates.

We offer six types of organic tea: Organic Gyokuro, Organic Sencha, Organic Genmaicha, Organic Hojicha, Organic Matcha and Premium Organic Matcha.

All of our organic teas are certified by JAS, and the JAS organic certification is recognized as equivalent to the EU and USDA organic certifications. Each of these teas is grown only with the help of fertilizers and pesticides derived from nature. In the cup, the characteristics of each of these teas will vary a little more than our regular lineup of tea blends, and we are only able to release a limited amount of these teas each year.

All of our teas are grown using the minimum amount of pesticides to produce a reliable crop of tea each year.

Fertilizers are used in growing all of our teas, and they give the tea plants the nutrition they need to grow healthily, energetically, and predictably in the cool mountain climate where the farms are located.

All teas in our organic collection are grown using only fertilizers and pesticides derived from nature, following the rules and regulations set by JAS. The teas in our regular collection are grown using a combination of fertilizers and pesticides that are synthetic and derived from nature.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers is highly controlled in Japan under strict regulations. These laws specify both the maximum amount of residue in the final product, and the maximum amount that can be used in the tea fields. In addition to testing and records kept by the Kyoto Prefectural Government on the tea farms, we conduct third-party testing for the residue in the teas we sell, and the tests have always shown results at miniscule levels, far below the maximum limits set by regulations.

In 2011, in response to the nuclear disaster following the Great East Japan Earthquake, we started testing all four types of our tea (matcha, gyokuro, sencha, and bancha) for radiation through a 3rd-party organization (Japan Food Inspection Corporation). Specifically, we tested for Iodine-131, Cesium-134, and Cesium-137, following Japanese government recommendations on which radioactive substances to test for in food items.

The frequency of the tests was once per year, as our teas are harvested only once per year.

Since the start of the tests in 2011, none of the tested radioactive substances have been detected.

After almost a decade of testing and confirming that our teas are safe, we have stopped doing the annual tests. The tea plantations that produce our tea are in a limited area, and have not changed over the years.