badmatchaThis month one of my co-founders, Alex, is in London, scoping out the Japanese green tea scene. We’re exploring the idea of opening a Chiki Tea café over there.

Over the last few weeks, Alex has had the arduous task of sampling various Matcha drinks around the centre of town (!). But it sounds like it might not be as fun as it could be due to the universally poor quality of Matcha on display.

It seems pretty clear that most London cafés selling Matcha are using culinary grade for their drinks. We suspect a lot of the Matcha on the UK market is made with Sencha rather than Tencha if you can believe it. (Remember, Sencha is grown for the most part without being shaded). This is why the price is relatively low and the colour is strange and kind of yellow or off-green at best. It also accounts for the shallow, chalky taste profile through the middle pallette with a bitterness, even saltiness (!), on the front and backend. Yuck!

On top of that, most of these drinks are being served at coffee shops –there really aren’t that many places dedicated to tea at the moment. Which means the Matcha is a kind of afterthought, or even a grudging homage to the growing interest in Matcha across the West.

If anyone here knows of a place in London selling top grade delicious Matcha, please tell me – we’d love to explore more…

But there’s hope!

Having said all this, we’re happy to announce that two cafés in London are now selling Chiki Tea ceremonial grade Matcha in their drinks: Uluntu, based in London Bridge and BeLive on the Kings Road in Chelsea (inside the Triyoga building).

Uluntu is a beautiful, peaceful space situated in a flower shop near London Bridge. The small area is divided off from the rest of the shop by a large fish tank, adding serenity as well as life and vitality to ambiance.

Lera is the shop’s manager and tea aficionado. She’s an expert in Japanese and Chinese tea who also offers tea meditations through her venture T-Lovers.

ChikiTea10_London Matcha 1

BeLive has a more energetic and bubbly atmosphere, with lots of yogis passing through on their way to class or seeking refreshment after a session on the mats. Run by Monika, Shaivia and Julija BeLive serves up the most delicious fresh juices and vegetarian snacks along with their teas.

ChikiTea10_London Matcha 2

So! If you’re in those areas please don’t forget to stop by!!!