The profound appeal of Matcha tea and Japanese tea, luring Berliners
“The one thing I can say about ‘Matcha’ is I hope many people will find out how varied the flavor and aroma of Japanese Matcha tea can be”. Says Florian Rosch, owner of “matchashop” that he opened in 2011 in Berlin, the capital of Germany. It has gained popularity as a specialist store handling over 100 varieties of Matcha tea sent from producers all over Japan. Florian and partner, Sandra Wenzl smile when talking about how they hope to find enjoyment for each individual person in line with diverse lifestyles. I spoke to them, so in love with Matcha that they can’t stop talking about it.
A former red-brick factory site slightly away from the center of the city of Berlin. “matchashop” is in a corner of this “creative city”, where artists gather from around the world. From when it opened in 2011, it has procured over 100 varieties of Matcha, and nearly 100 varieties of green tea from Japan, as well as selling various related items such as authentic tea ceremony equipment and electric tea whisks.
Owner, Florian ran a tea lounge in Frankfurt from 2005 through 2008, offering a rich variation of teas. He says it was there that he first learnt about Matcha, and became interested in it. “At that time I served tea cocktails mixed using Matcha. However, once I began to drink pure Matcha, I was captivated by its profound depths”. From some that are powerful and astringent, to others with a sense of floral fruitiness, or a mild and smooth sensation on the palate... “Matcha is a drink with the rich individuality of wine, I think”.
In Germany, “Matcha” is well-known and draws much attention. Yet, he says, there are many people who will not try something they are unsure about, thinking things like “you cannot enjoy it without the equipment and learning the etiquette”, or that “it must taste bitter”. They are mainly people who, even though they may visit “matchashop”, have never drunk Matcha. Attentive advice is key to having a Matcha selected that fits your preferences from among the plethora of Matcha types. “For those who want a Matcha latte, we recommend the original blend with its powerful aroma and astringency that will not lose out to the taste of the milk. Combining it with oat milk adds a smoky flavor of husks which is superb! Those who prefer a smooth and mild taste should enjoy straight “Hoju” made through a handmade process in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture”.
If a certain Matcha suited you, it is good to try ones with a similar flavor, or go for a totally different taste and aroma or way of drinking. He says the important thing is to feel at ease to freely enjoy the tea.
According to Florian, at present, there is great popularity for cold brew green tea. In particular, cold brew green tea containing Matcha needs simply to be added to water and left, and also boasts a fine balance of refreshing bitterness and rounded sweetness that is perfect for hot summer. He says the rate of repeat customers is high.
The people of Europe, including Berlin, purchase Matcha for various reasons, besides, of course, a like for its taste. There are also some who, through an interest in Japanese culture, want to try whisking tea and hold a tea ceremony. There is an apparent increase in people, too, interested in Matcha Latte for its fresh green popular look and prettiness. It is also drawing attention as a superfood containing catechins and vitamins.
“We drink Matcha every morning! Matcha has the effect of refreshing the mind and waking you up with a shot of vitality. Maybe for that reason we get regular orders from those in the medical profession, yoga schools and so on”, says Sandra.
Also on sale at “matchashop” is their original brand “Teelirium” that uses Japanese Matcha. “I said earlier that Matcha has the rich individuality of wine, but these blends have the ‘Cuvée’ of Champagne. They are created from blends of numerous premium Matcha teas”, says Florian. They are unique blends using Matcha grown organically, created by Tea Meisters in Japan on special request. They have been created considering the balance of flavor and aroma for different situations, such as a refreshing taste for everyday drinking, a strong aroma for cooking, and a creamy flavor for special occasions. They are easy, then, to choose between even without knowledge of the difference in taste by production location.
Furthermore, Florian and Sandra use social media to spread the wide-ranging appeal of Matcha that is not only a drink. They introduce beautiful, fresh-colored recipes, such as Two-layered latte of Matcha and mocha coffee; Lemonade with the fresh bitterness of Matcha and a hit of lime; Smoothie with the shining yellow of frozen mango and pineapple, and the green of Matcha; Gluten-free Matcha mousse with a rich flavor from generous nuts; Matcha brownies containing sweet potato; Matcha iced yoghurt strewn with blueberries and black sesame. It is exciting just looking at the combination of raw ingredients and the novelty of ideas.
“This fresh green color can only be Japanese Matcha!” says Florian with eyes shining. At home and at work, they always have a Matcha next to them. “For the future, we’d like to expand our product line-up even more. We’d like to meet the many producers that we don’t yet know of. We hope to increase the number of matcha fans across Germany and around the world”. Florian and Sandra’s dream continues to go still further.
As they suggest, first try sensing for yourself the aroma and flavor of Japanese Matcha. You, too, are sure to become captive to its profound depth, breadth of use, and more than anything, its deliciousness.
Text: Hideko Kawachi, Photography: Gianni Plescia