Umami Mart Registry

Mizuba Tea's Daily Matcha is something we've carried since the early days of Umami Mart. In fact, it has been since Lauren Purvis of Mizuba Tea Co. visited our store in 2014, so that's a whole decade of Mizuba Tea's matcha living on our shelves. Customers come in all the time for the Daily Matcha, as it has the perfect balance of umami, bitterness, and that distinct earthiness that is only found in shade grown, stone milled matcha.

Although we've chatted with Lauren about matcha, fun drinks, and holiday orders for the past ten years, last week was the first time we set aside an hour to talk, uninterrupted on Zoom. We wanted to learn more about Lauren's story – the farms that she works with, and how she got started in matcha. We are excited to be able to share her story for Female Frontrunners month this year. It's long overdue!

Lauren's connection to tea started when she was just eleven years old. She remembers collecting teas through high school and sharing them with friends and family. She soon became to realize that the world of tea was deep and explains, "Tea provides a way to understand flavor." It was in 2006 that her brother brought home a can of matcha tea to her and she was hooked. It all happened organically, as she subsequently visited Kyoto and got connected with a matcha producer. 

Mizuba Tea was formed in 2013, and her commitment to the tea producers has been front and center for the business ever since. All of her matcha is from the Uji region, where many believe the earliest tea seeds were established in Japan, is the origin of the tea ceremony, and where the Emperor designated to be the only area that could grow tea for 200 years.

To spread the Mizuba word, Lauren did it the DIY way. She describes her first days promoting her matcha, "I went to local places that I could see serving exceptional matcha. In 2013, not many spots were, so I wanted to be intentional about who would treat the matcha well. I simply asked folks who ran the establishments if they'd like to have tea with me, and to my surprise, so many people said yes!" And that's how she also stumbled into Umami Mart in 2014. And we've been hooked since.

I asked Lauren what it means to support heritage matcha. Lauren explained that she works with producers that are committed to certain traditions. The most notable traditions are stonemilling and shading – practices that are fading due to their labor intensiveness and need for skill. She goes onto explain that matcha only accounts for 2% of Japan's entire tea production, and a small amount of that matcha production is heritage grown matcha.

The definition of heritage matcha is that it is:
1.) from Japan
2.) shade grown, which make the tea more sweet and savory
3.) from tencha leaves
4.) stone milled, giving the matcha more complex, nutty flavors (as compared to jet or ball milled matcha).

Lauren Purvis of Mizuba Tea Co. with tea leaves

As for being a woman in the tea business, Lauren provides a positive perspective. "I have been so fortunate to be so supported by the tea community. It's a good time to be in tea, as I am seeing more women in tea." However, in the broader scheme of things, Kayoko and I can sympathize with what Lauren says, "It's still a challenge to achieve a work-life balance and navigate things like maternity leave."

We feel very fortunate to be able to work with women-owned small businesses like Mizuba Tea. Stocking our shelves with products made by people who are mindful, curious, and have wealth of knowledge in their field inspires us. 

And for one last bit of inspiration, we asked Lauren what her current favorite ways to enjoy matcha are. "In LA, Stereoscope Coffee makes a simple tonic water and matcha drink that I love," says Lauren, "Electrica Coffee in Portland also make a great drink that incorporates strawberry puree and matcha. But still my favorite was to enjoy matcha is whisked plain in a chawan." Us too!!!

If you are curious to make a simple bowl of whisked matcha with Mizuba Tea's Daily Matcha, please see our recipe here.

Photos courtesy of Lauren Purvis.