You’ve seen it, you’ve bought it, you’ve gotten it with almond milk in a latte. Matcha, the finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves has been around for long enough that it’s on most menus in America. Matcha is rich in fiber, chlorophyll, and vitamins, and is one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants on the planet. The process of making this incredible gem is also very special. It’s divided in two aspects of farming and processing: the green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for three to four weeks before harvest, and the stems and veins are removed during processing.
Marc St. Raymond of Jade Leaf Matcha saw the trend early on, and realized that many were cashing in on the trend in an unfair way. A lover of matcha for years prior, he knew that some were selling low grade product that didn’t really give you all of the wonderful benefits of matcha, and that others were charging a ludicrous price for quality. He set out to fix the issue, so that everyone could enjoy the incredible health benefits of his favorite treat. We interviewed him about Jade Leaf and what is next for the brand. Keep reading for more below!
How did the idea for Jade Leaf Matcha come to fruition? What was your inspiration?
My co-founder, Will, and I have loved matcha for years as a healthy energy boost. It was a godsend when working long hours as software engineers at tech startups in San Francisco. Back in 2014, most brands importing matcha to the U.S. were either selling low-quality green tea powder (often from China), or ridiculously overcharging for it (the classic “luxury brand” approach). We thought we could do better with a simple promise – premium quality, organic Japanese matcha at a fair price – direct from farmers we know and trust. It’s the promise we run the company on, and it holds true to this day.
What are the benefits of matcha, or more specifically, Jade Leaf’s ceremonial grade matcha?
Matcha is rich in fiber, chlorophyll, and vitamins, and is one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants on the planet. These compounds help fend off free radicals, the molecules that nutritionists believe are responsible for accelerated aging, tissue damage, and inflammatory issues. One antioxidant found in matcha, EGCG, has been shown to help support metabolism and aid in weight loss.
In addition, the unique combination of caffeine and l-theanine in matcha provides a wonderfully calm yet alert feeling. Unlike the jittery buzz of coffee, most people feel a better sense of focus. This is particularly true with higher grades of matcha, like our ceremonial grade, which has a higher concentration of naturally occurring l-theanine.
What should a consumer be looking out for when purchasing matcha?
First and foremost, make sure you trust the brand you are purchasing from. Marketers will literally say anything about their products, so seeking out honesty and transparency is crucial.
Once you feel comfortable with the brand, then look at the specific details of their matcha offerings. For instance, I always look for where the matcha was grown, as Japan has truly perfected the art of matcha cultivation. We’re also strong believers in 100% USDA Organic certified matcha, grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, because with matcha you ingest the entire tea leaf.
Whether you choose first harvest “ceremonial” matcha or later harvest “culinary” matcha really depends on how you would like to enjoy it. This is another strong reason to trust your brand, many brands misuse them to overcharge for poor quality.
Candidly my matcha enjoyment is on constant rotation – one week it’s all about traditional tea, while the next it will be all about iced lattes. Right now I’m on one of the latte kicks, so my go-to pure matcha is our new Barista Edition offering, and when I want to spice things up I go for our new PROTECT Matcha Latte Infusion blend, which as super yummy golden milk spices like cinnamon and cardamom.
Tell us more about your farm-direct process in sourcing your matcha:
We’ve been lucky enough to partner directly with a growing number of family-owned partner farms that fuse traditional and modern techniques to cultivate leaves brimming with flavor and nutrients. One of our farmers, Harima-san, was one of the first to commit to organic farming in the famous Uji region. Another, Orita-san, is pioneering new techniques to cultivate delicious matcha more sustainably in the sun-soaked fields of Kagoshima.
After each harvest, our tea master, Morita-san, then brings together carefully selected leaves. He creates unique, well-rounded flavor profile not found anywhere else.
What are your plans for the future of Jade Leaf? Anything launching soon that we should be aware of?
Our primary mission will never change. As our direct-trade partner farm network expands, we’ll continue to increase the quality of our signature grades of matcha. While providing rare and exceptional offerings with each harvest.
From there, we’re always trying to invent new and fun ways for our customers to enjoy matcha. And speaking of launches, we just released our new line of Matcha Smoothie Boosters! Available in five varieties: Pure Matcha, Matcha Collagen, Matcha Supergreens, Matcha Mushrooms and Matcha Probiotics. Each booster blends functional ingredients and adaptogens with premium USDA certified organic Japanese matcha. It provides green tea nutrients and calm, focused energy for an elevated smoothie beverage. We’re matcha lovers, plain and simple. Everyday we get to bring this magical tea into more lives is a good one.