It’s matcha time! Not really. I drank all my matcha and haven’t had a chance to get more. (So sad!) But if you’re craving a blissful hour of matcha time, you can make your way down to Matcha Time Cafe, a Japanese tea room and gift shop, in the heart of historic Ellicott City, MD.
The shop is tucked away in the back of the large visitor parking lot (with free parking!) about halfway down Main Street. After finding the cafe on a map, I tried to walk up to the building on Merryman Street, which is where the street address directs you, but the shop is actually on the back side of the building, away from the street. Luckily, there was a path between the buildings (and when I say “path,” I mean gravel-lined alley full of large air conditioning units) that leads you right through to the brick walkway on the front porch of the Matcha Time Cafe. Take it from me: It’s easier to just walk up the stairs from the parking lot.
Once we had wandered up Merryman Street and through the alley, we discovered the large signs over the door only a few hundred feet from where we parked, and we made our way inside. When I first heard of Matcha Time Cafe, I was expecting something like a small restaurant with Japanese-themed decor. I was not expecting the adorable Japanese sushi bar/pastry shop/gift shop/tea room that we found. It was bigger than I expected, with three seating areas: a couple of tables on the porch outside, a few tables by the windows in front of the register, and a couple more tables by the windows in front of the main “shop” area. The shop is a room unto itself, full of colorful and cute Japanese decor, tea accessories, and other items. The variety of merchandise available was a nice surprise, and it was fun exploring the selection of novelty goods on display after placing our order.
We went in the middle of the afternoon, and there weren’t many people around, so we had time to wander without interrupting anyone’s tea or sushi. The shop was manned by an older woman and a young man, both of whom were very friendly and helpful, and the items on the menu seemed very reasonably priced compared to many cafes and tea shops that I’ve been to in the past.
Unfortunately, we were just stopping in for drinks, so I have no idea what the pastries or sushi are like, although I was excited about the options on the menu, and I will definitely be going back to try them. We decided to stay and enjoy our drinks in the cafe instead of ordering to go, and we shared a pot of Houjicha, a delicious green tea with a pleasant earthy-smoky flavor. The tea was served in colorful ceramic teapots with china cups, and when we ran out, the server refilled our pot with fresh hot water so that we could enjoy a second brew.
One of us also ordered a mango smoothie, which tasted, to me, like a cold mango injected with cream. We were given the option of soy or regular milk, and we chose regular, although I would be interested in finding out what type of soy they use.
Although I didn’t have a chance to sample many of the items from their menu, I had a great experience, and I would definitely go back. If you’re looking for a cute, friendly place to sit down and have some tea or snacks, I highly recommend checking out Matcha Time Cafe.
You can check out their Facebook page for pictures and more information:
And, finally, let me apologize for my mobile photography. Apparently I was having an off-kilter kind of day, and my fingers wanted to grab their chance at internet fame. The photos on Matcha Time’s Facebook page are better quality than what I’ve provided here, and also show different perspectives of the cafe and goods.