History of Ippodo

History of Ippodo

With a history going back over 3 centuries to the Edo period, Ippodo is a tea company richly steeped in Japanese tradition. 

Its origin dates back to the year 1717, when founder Rihei Watanabe established a tea shop called OMIYA at Teramachi Nijo, just south of the Imperial Palace.  The shop’s reputation for providing high quality tea grew quickly, and patrons soon included members of the Imperial household.  In 1846, the shop was renamed IPPODO, which literally means “preserve one”.  The name was bestowed upon the shop by Prince Yamashina, who wanted the shop to forever preserve its tradition of providing high quality tea with a supreme taste.  To this day, we at Ippodo have strived to uphold the wishes of the Prince, and to adhere to the time-honored mission of providing a superlative tea with our trademark high-quality taste.


Ippodo Kyoto Main Store in 1905,

  with streetcar rails in foreground.

1717 Businessman Rihei Watanabe from Omi (present-day Shiga) establishes a shop in Kyoto near the Imperial Palace. The shop, called OMIYA, deals in high quality Japanese tea and ceramics.
1846 The name IPPODO is bestowed upon the shop by Prince Yamashina. The shop focuses its business on high grade Japanese tea from the now-renowned Uji region.
1864 The shop, as well as the Hamaguri gate of the Imperial Palace, is damaged during war. It is rebuilt at its present location, across the street from the original site.
1868-1912 The shop engages in overseas tea trading, exporting green tea and importing black tea.
1912 During this period, the shop moves away from overseas tea trading, and focuses on domestic retail.
1935 Ippodo employee Yojiro Sado develops a new type of tea, Uji-Shimizu.
1952 A small shop selling Ippodo tea is established inside the Hanshin department store in Osaka’s Umeda district. This marks the beginning of Ippodo’s venture into opening shops in department stores.
1964 Ippodo becomes incorporated under Japanese law.
1993 A series of educational leaflets, “Cha-no-ha Koto-no-ha”, are published by Ippodo to help educate people on the finer details of tea.
1995 The KABOKU Tearoom, located in Kyoto next to the Main Store, enjoys its grand opening.
1997 The Ippodo website is set up.
1998 "Cha-no-ha Koto-no-ha ZUKAN " leaflets are published. These are upgraded versions of the previously released leaflets.
2000 Ippodo’s Online Shop is opened.
2002 A Seminar Room is opened adjacent to the Head Office. This space is used for tea-making workshops & seminars.
2003 Hajime-no-Ippo, an exclusive Ippodo matcha starter kit, is introduced for people interested in making matcha the traditional way.
2004 A limited edition Ippodo tumbler is issued (sorry, sold out).
2005 Kaboku, Ippodo’s current highest-grade sencha, is introduced. And a new 50g size of gyokuro is offered to allow customers to sample this expensive luxurious tea.
2006 Sankaku-cha-Bukuro, a new product featuring pyramidal one-pot sencha tea bags, is launched to afford extra convenience to tea drinkers with busy schedules.
October 25th marks the grand re-opening of the Kyoto Main Store and KABOKU Tearoom, after undergoing a major restoration. Please come and visit our renewed facilities!
2008 The Original IPPODO Tokoname Yakishime Kyusu Teapot goes on sale, providing customers with a teapot suitably sized for making all kinds of Japanese green tea, from gyokuro to sencha and bancha teas.
One-Pot Teabag Barley Tea goes on sale, providing a convenient way to make 1 liter of barley tea (mugicha), which tastes great hot or cold.
2009 Uji-Shimizu Sticks go on sale. Each single-serving stick makes it easier than ever before to enjoy the refreshing taste of Uji-Shimizu matcha
Ippodo offers gyokurosencha, and hojicha in a convenient new tetrahedral teabag form—which releases the tea's core components more efficiently—including 12-bag and 25-bag packages, as well as a 12-bag package of assorted teas.
2010 Ippodo opens Tokyo Marunouchi Store, its first street-front store apart from the main Kyoto store.
Take-out service launched at the main store in Kyoto and Tokyo Marunouchi Store enabling customers to order freshly made Japanese green tea "to go."
2011 Ippodo Travel Flask goes on sale. Made by Zojirushi, this flask is designed to allow you to enjoy delicious Japanese green tea brewed from fresh tea leaves wherever you go.
Matcha Tea Bowl with Serving Spout goes on sale. Meticulously crafted, this tea bowl (chawan) is specially designed for whisking matcha and then pouring it into other cups for serving.
One-Pot Size Pack product line launched with premium gyokuro (Tenka-ichi, Ippoen, and Kanro) and sencha (Kaboku and Kumpu) offerings. Each 10-gram pack contains the right amount for making a kyusu pot's worth of tea.
Teabag Set (30-bag assortment) goes on sale in celebration of the Tokyo Marunouchi Store's first anniversary.
Ippodo website and Online Shop redesigned.
2012 One-Pot Teabag Kuki Hojicha goes on sale, joining Kuki Sencha and Barley Tea in the One-Pot Teabag series of teabags designed for making larger quantities of tea.
The Kyoto Main Store is partially remodeled to create an event space on the 2nd floor, providing a more spacious environment for learning about the delights of Japanese green tea.
2013 Ippodo opens Ippodo Tea, New York, its first street-front store outside Japan.
Blue Zojirushi Travel Flask goes on sale, providing a large flask with an attractive new design.
Ivory Tokoname Kyusu Teapot goes on sale—an ideal kyusu for newcomers to Japanese tea.
2014 One-Pot Teabag Genmaicha and large-volume type Barley Tea (mugicha) in extra-large 30-bag can go on sale, joining the One-Pot Teabag series of teabags designed for making larger quantities of tea.
2015 Miyako Watanabe, the wife of the proprietor of Ippodo Tea, publishes Ocha no Aji, Kimura Glass Type A and Type T go on sale as utensils for savoring the aroma and overlapping flavors of Japanese tea.
Hosen 30g Bag goes on sale for a limited time as a small package of sencha ideal for tea tasting.
All matcha packages change to a new design. Canvas Tote by Ichizawa Shinzaburo goes on sale at Kyoto Main Store, Tokyo Marunouchi Store, and Ippodo Tea, New York.
2016 Smartphone website and online shop open. Commemorative coasters produced in celebration.
Assorted Teabag Gift Set goes on sale for limited period in a formal gift package.
One-Pot Teabag Gyokuro can go on sale, joining the One-Pot Teabag series of teabags designed for making larger quantities of tea.
Tekiro 30g Bag goes on sale for a limited time as a small package of gyokuro ideal for tea tasting.
Four gift sets designed for taking time and savoring matcha go on sale at Ippodo Tea, New York.
Utensil range updated, adding Yakishime Kyusu Teapot (Banko-yaki) and Tea Bowl with Serving Spout. (black or white)
Zojirushi Travel Flask depicting animals enjoying Japanese tea in the forest goes on sale.
Gift Box for customers’ assortments of teas goes on sale.
Special wrapping paper adopted for Obukucha Medium Can.
2017 Tekiro Small Can goes on sale as a delightful yellow can.
Travel Flask goes on sale as a new version sporting an attractive tea jar motif.
One-Cup Teabags (Gyokuro, Sencha, and Hojicha) in medium-size cans w/ boxes go on sale.
One-Pot Teabags (Gyokuro and Sencha) package redesigned for medium-size cans w/ boxes.
Matcha Starter Kit 5 and Matcha Starter Kit 6 go on sale exclusively at Ippodo Tea, New York and Online Shop.
Assortment of 3 Green Teas and Assortment of 5 Green Teas go on sale exclusively at Ippodo Tea, New York and Online Shop.
2018 Gift envelope released exclusively for Uji Shincha 50g Bag, making a delightful casual gift.
Heat-resistant Glass Teapot goes on sale.
Large-volume teabag boxes go on sale: 108 One-Cup Teabags (Gyokuro, Sencha, and, Hojicha).
Limited number of Glass Teapot Sets go on sale exclusively at Ippodo Tea, New York and Online Shop.