Free shipping on orders over $39 USD!
Chat
Company

Meet Miyako Watanabe of Ippodo

Written on May 06, 2021

When your company is 300 years old, keeping historic traditions alive is a critical part of the job. The Watanabe family is that keeper at Ippodo, and as the company’s Vice President, Mrs. Watanabe is Ippodo’s public face. Not only does she educate the public on Japanese tea traditions; she also selects seasonal flowers and sweets at our Kyoto café. Here’s a taste of how she does it in her own words, and what it all means for your cup of tea.

What do you do at Ippodo?

In Japan, tea isn’t just a beverage—it’s a ritual and cultural institution. So when guests come to our Kyoto store, we want them to enjoy the complete atmosphere that tea can provide. Everyone should feel welcome there. I am responsible for making that experience as welcoming as possible, which includes the beautiful floral arrangements we have inside and outside, as well as seasonal wagashi: traditional Japanese sweets ideal for pairing with tea.

Changing seasons are important to the Japanese mindset. We keep our floral displays and wagashi fresh to highlight these seasons at our cafe. For example, during spring I select Yamabuki for many arrangements, while in fall I like to arrange a bouquet of Toad Lily and Patrinia.

Ippodo Tea - Meet Miyako Watanabe

How do you keep connected to the past?

Tea is a generational business: we learn about it from our parents and teach it to our children. Only five people at Ippodo are responsible for screening every batch of tea that comes to our factory and blending batches to produce a specific house taste. Two of them are my husband and my son, and it falls to me to take care of their palates. Did you know that overly spicy or salty foods can alter your sense of taste? I make sure my family maintains a diet that won’t interfere with their tea tasting.

This is important to any tea business, but especially a Japanese one. Skillful blending of different cultivars and regions is a critical part of making quality Japanese tea. We aim to make tea that is rich and flavorful but won’t disturb your palate, and it should leave a clean, refreshing finish after you sip. Since every harvest is different, we’re constantly tasting and adjusting blends to maintain the house taste that we’re known for.

Ippodo Tea - Miyako Watanabe 2

What’s in your cup right now?

I love showing people how to cold brew gyokuro. It’s so easy, and it makes a delicious full-bodied cup of iced tea with zero astringency. It’s especially good during times of the year when it’s hot and humid in Kyoto.

Latest Blog Posts

Browse all articles 
How to Make a Matcha Latte Recipe

How to Make a Matcha Latte

A matcha latte combines the crisp, green bite of matcha powder with the creaminess of milk. From the variety of matcha to the type of milk and ratios in your recipe, a few factors determine the character of a matcha latte.
Shincha 2021 is Almost Here Shincha

Shincha 2021 is Almost Here

Crafted from tea leaves that were growing in a field only a few days prior, Ippodo’s Shincha is delivered right after harvest. There is only once chance per year to experience its fresh, fleeting character.
Tea: Your new favorite cocktail ingredient Recipe

Tea: Your new favorite cocktail ingredient

If you have leftover hot or iced tea, you’re just one ingredient away from making a potent simple syrup that will easily swap into recipes and keep for weeks in the refrigerator.
Account
Currency
Dark mode

Shopping bag

Product
Qty
Price
Max. quantity reached
*Pre-order
Shipping by {property.value}

Empty. Please add something to your cart!

Subtotal  item items Shipping  lbs
Total

Please note: by proceeding with checkout, you agree to be subject to our terms and conditions