Today, tea lovers, you are in for something special. This month, we are officially launching a product over a year in the making – our very first ready-to-drink tea, Matcha NOW!
If you followed us through March, you might have seen that we’re pretty fond of matcha around here. (Translation: Okay, we’re mildly obsessed with it.) We can’t tell you how excited we are to add this product to our line of organic teas. To help you understand why, let’s spend a few minutes to go over what makes Matcha NOW different from other ready-to-drink matchas.
What Is Matcha NOW?
Matcha NOW is a matcha drink that’s ready to go whenever and wherever you are. No steeping involved, just shake and sip.
That sounds cool, but what makes this different from the other matcha drinks out there? The trick is in the preparation.
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the bottle is that it’s clear. That’s because our matcha powder isn’t pre-mixed into the drink; it’s stored in the cap.
The problem with pre-mixing matcha is that it oxidizes quickly, losing flavor and spoiling a few days after it’s been mixed. Our solution was to preserve the matcha in the cap until you’re ready to drink it, providing you with an instantly fresh and flavorful matcha drink every time. Just twist the green cap, shake it up, then enjoy.
Of course, fresh matcha is only worth so much if the matcha quality isn’t good. Matcha NOW is made exclusively with organic ceremonial grade matcha grown and prepared in Japan. We use a family-owned organic tea farm because we know we can count on generations of technique and experience to produce a rich and delicious matcha.
As proud as we are of the final result, the road from start to finish has been a long and sometimes complicated one. Take a peek at the story behind it – the details may surprise you.
Matcha NOW: The Journey, Then to NOW
The Matcha NOW story begins, as all matcha stories do, in the tea fields of Japan. Years ago, our CEO, John Boyd, was visiting Japan and had his first encounter with matcha. Once created by Buddhist Monks and used in ornate tea ceremonies, matcha’s use today has expanded to appear in Japanese foods, drinks, desserts, and essentially become a part of everyday life there.
John became enamored with the culture, concept and taste of matcha, and he knew it was something that Buddha Teas needed to be involved with. Buddha Teas already had a long-standing interest in producing a ready-to-drink tea, and when John returned from his trip with matcha samples, the team knew it was exactly what they wanted to work with. Trying to decide on what to do with it, of course, was a little more challenging.
Matcha lattes were becoming all the rage in the U.S. at the time, so the first idea we explored was that of a bottled version of a matcha latte. However, there were a number of development problems.
Many of the requirements involved in preparing a milk drink included various chemicals and were taxing on the environment; this, combined with the pasteurizing and acidifying processes, all added up to a product that was very different from the clean, natural and healthy products Buddha Teas strives to produce.
With the matcha latte plan scrapped, we moved on to other ideas. We tried pairing matcha with coconut water, but the results were underwhelming. Finally, the team tested the matcha in pure, cold water. The smooth, elegant taste was just the result they’d been looking for.
With the new direction also came a new problem. We knew matcha didn’t last long when mixed into water before it lost its taste and benefits. To create a great matcha drink, we had to find a way to keep the matcha stored separately. The obvious solution was to store it in the cap. At least ten different cap variations were explored before we finally encountered the design we used today.
Finding the right design was only half the battle. We were still missing a crucial component: the perfect matcha.
Fortunately, fate dealt us a lucky hand. While attending the World Tea Expo in 2015, Buddha Teas connected with Takezawa Seicha, a family-owned-and-operated organic tea farm located in Kagoshima, Japan.
The two companies hit it off quickly, and we invited Takezawa to visit our Carlsbad office to discuss a possible partnership.
The meeting that followed was no typical office room board meeting. Instead, we were greeted by Takezawa’s Master Tea Blender, an auspicious title that’s also well deserved. To help us better understand the company, their teas and their tea-making philosophies, Takezawa prepared a presentation that was equal parts tea ceremony and tasting process. The tasting took a full six hours to complete.
It wasn’t only the quality of the tea that impressed us, but Takezawa’s approach to tea and their commitment to producing high quality organic teas. It was exactly this quality and commitment that would provide Matcha NOW with the top-notch matcha it needed.
You might think the story ends there. According to Sam Timko, our Director of Production & Development, that wasn’t the case. When asked what the biggest challenge of building the Matcha NOW product was, he answered, “It was putting the matcha in the cap!”
The trouble with matcha is that it’s a very fine powder, similar to powdered sugar or baby powder. Because it’s light, silky and tends to stick to itself, it doesn’t flow easily when poured. A good amount of innovation was needed to get the perfect amount of matcha powder into each cap. It took time, but the team was eventually able to create a special proprietary process (read “trade secret”) to get the job done.
After all that, Sam was asked what he was most proud of in working with Matcha NOW. “I’m really proud to have been part of creating a product that offers real quality matcha on-the-go,” he said. “Looking forward, we want to expand the line with more exciting flavors. There’s so much we can do with it.”
Where Can I Find Matcha NOW?
You can pick up a case of Matcha NOW directly from our website right here on the product page. Starting in September, we’ll be launching in Sprouts stores, and we’re available now in individual retailers across the country.
Not sure you want to commit to a whole case yet? Good news! Right now, Buddha Teas is offering a special deal to all our U.S. customers. For the entire month of August, any U.S. order of $50 or more gets a FREE bottle of Matcha NOW to try! Just choose the flavor you like at checkout, and your bottle will be on its way to you. We’re sure you won’t be disappointed!
What do you think of Matcha NOW? Share your reactions in the comments below!