As part of a focus on tea culture and its constant evolution, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is collaborating with acclaimed tea expert Shinya Sakurai on a new content series. This video profile introduces Sakurai, his tea artistry, and philosophy.
In many types of art and design, one must master the rules before one can think about breaking them. Shinya Sakurai, one of Japan’s most innovative tea artisans, worked intensively to perfect his craft – spending 17 years to become a tea master before starting to push the limits of tradition. Today, he is the visionary behind “Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience”, a tearoom in Minami Aoyama, Tokyo known as a destination for utterly unique tea concoctions and for advancing the tradition of tea through experimentation. As Sakurai describes, his goal was to create a tea experience that engages all five senses, and the preparation, brewing, and serving of each tea is designed to delight the eye and the nose as much as the palate. Sakurai’s minimalist tearoom features carefully curated teas from around Japan, from hōjicha roasted in-store to refined gyokuro shade-grown green tea, and also his own signature creations like cha-shu, an original tea cocktail combining tea and liquor. Sakurai’s Tokyo restaurant has been featured as a top destination in publications like Time Out and Wallpaper Magazine, and his work with Association SABOE, aims to preserve and advance tea traditions for a new generation. In Sakurai’s own words, the eternal value of tea is simple: “tea brings people together and communication is born”.
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About Shinya Sakurai
After working at Yakumo Saryo, a Japanese restaurant, and as a manager at Higashiya, a wagashi (Japanese confectionary) shop, Shinya Sakurai opened SAKURAI JAPANESE TEA EXPERIENCE in Minami Aoyama, Tokyo, to introduce the values of Japanese tea and new ways to enjoy it. Taking the processes of “roasting” and “blending” as the base, the shop offers curated tea from various regions in Japan, hōjicha roasted in-store, and seasonal blends of tea made with natural Japanese ingredients. In the adjoining tearoom, guests can enjoy tasting gyokuro and fresh-roasted hōjicha, as well as special tea courses and tea-based alcoholic beverages with wagashi. With Association SABOE, Sakurai aims to present a contemporary way to drink tea and to pass this down to the next generation, by serving tea casually and holding seminars in and out of the country, and also by planning/producing menus and training tea professionals.