Hello everyone! In February 2023, we finally launched our long-awaited service called Matcha Direct.
Matcha Direct is a service that delivers ultra-fresh matcha directly to customers by air, grinding the tea leaves only after receiving an order. If you're running a cafe or restaurant and considering adding matcha to your menu, we believe our service would be a perfect fit for you.
While our e-commerce website provides information about our company and products, it's difficult to convey everything we want to express. Therefore, we'd like to take this opportunity to introduce our service in more detail through this blog post.
Matcha and Coffee: Freshness Matters for Both!
If you're familiar with handling coffee, you probably pay close attention to its freshness. You'd likely resist serving coffee beans roasted more than a month ago to your customers. Similarly, freshness is crucial for matcha. Matcha is ground to the micron level using a stone mill, resulting in a large surface area and rapid deterioration compared to other types of tea like sencha and gyokuro.
One noticeable change is the gradual shift in color towards a yellowish hue, but even more significant are the changes in flavor and aroma. When matcha produced in Japan is distributed outside of the country, it inevitably takes longer to reach its end-users. Handling matcha's freshness is a major challenge in exporting the product.
For those who already offer matcha, do you know when it was produced and how it has been distributed? Even if you purchase high-quality matcha, differences in distribution can affect its freshness, diverging from its freshly-ground state. While focusing on the quality grade of matcha is undoubtedly important, the time elapsed since production is also a critical factor in determining matcha's overall quality.
For cafe owners looking to start offering matcha, we suggest treating it like coffee beans in terms of freshness.
Our Company's Position within Japan
Our company was founded over 160 years ago in Uji, Kyoto, one of the most renowned tea-producing area in Japan. We have been continuing to explore new possibilities of tea and as as result we have become Japans's best-known bland of matcha. In Japan, we focus on:
- Wholesale to tea retailers
- Wholesale to domestic beverage and confectionery manufacturers
- Operating tea shops
We produce over 100 tons of matcha annually, in addition to handling various types of tea like sencha and gyokuro. We are likely one of the most famous matcha brands in Japan.
While we are a well-known brand in Japan, we have not been very active in exportation. Our hesitation to engage in exportation stems from concerns about the deterioration of product quality. Quality is the lifeline of a brand, and under traditional export schemes, we believed that we could not provide matcha in its optimal state to overseas customers.
Unique Sales Model and Product Design
In recent times, international courier services have become more affordable, and the environment for cross-border e-commerce has become increasingly accessible. This has enabled us to establish a system to export matcha in a way that satisfies our standards. With our original Ground-To-Order system, we have created the global brand Matcha Direct. We are a tea company with our own manufacturing facilities, which allows us to create a scheme that covers the entire supply chain, unlike retail stores.
Our products are made to order, with the matcha being ground only after we receive the order. The freshly ground matcha is then delivered directly to customers via air shipment.
To realize this service, we focus on the following four key points in our business design. Let's explain each point in more detail.
We start grinding the matcha upon receiving an order from our customers. This means that the production date of our matcha will always be after the date the customer places their order. When the matcha arrives at the customer's location, it will be ultra-fresh, having been ground only 2-3 days prior.
We use stone mills to grind the matcha, not machines. Stone-ground matcha produces better froth when whisked, and can cover a wide range of applications. Since we provide Ground-To-Order matcha, machine grinding, which is suitable for mass production, isn't feasible. From a supply chain perspective, stone mills are the optimal choice.
2. Small Packs
In fact, the biggest issue with storing matcha is exposing it to air when taking it in and out of refrigerators or freezers. When cold matcha is exposed to air, condensation occurs, making it more susceptible to absorbing moisture. Moisture-absorbing matcha develops a distinct musty smell, so storing matcha in refrigerator can be counterproductive in terms of quality preservation. On the other hand, leaving matcha at room temperature will gradually deteriorate its quality.
Small packs help alleviate these concerns. We provide matcha in 100g Small Packs, so that you don't have to worry about quality management. With 100g, matcha can be used up before it goes bad, even when stored at room temperature. There is also no need for customers to divide the matcha themselves, and the sealed remaining packs provide peace of mind.
For example, when purchasing 1kg, we provide it as 10 packs of 100g each. In order to provide benefits for bulk purchases, when buying 1kg, we have made it more cost-effective per bag compared to purchasing smaller amounts, such as 300g (100g x 3 packs).
3. Direct to Customer & Air Shipment
We ship matcha directly from Kyoto, Japan to customers' stores via air shipment, without going through local (e.g., US-based) distributors. This is known as cross-border e-commerce. We generally ship with our partner DHL, but depending on the destination, we may also use international express mail service (EMS).
Although air shipment incurs higher costs, there is the advantage of avoiding extra distribution costs with Direct to Customer sales. As a result, we are confident that our matcha is of comparable quality to other matcha products in the same price range available in the US, and we can deliver it with the added value of freshness.
4. Free Shipping
We offer free shipping on all orders. This is part of our service design aimed at encouraging customers to purchase smaller quantities more frequently, ensuring that they always use fresh matcha.
For example, if you use 1000g of matcha per month, you can order 500g every two weeks to consistently provide fresh matcha at your store.
As mentioned earlier, freshness is crucial when discussing matcha quality. The intention of our service is not to burden customers with managing freshness, but to create a system where freshness is automatically maintained within our product offering.
By using our service, you can effortlessly provide high-quality, fresh matcha to your customers without having to be particularly conscious of its freshness.
Top-Quality Matcha at Affordable Prices
First, we exclusively offer first-harvest tea leaves in all of our products. First-harvest tea leaves, known as "ichiban-cha," are harvested during the initial season from April to May in Kyoto. These leaves are characterized by their rich umami flavor, abundant theanine, sweetness, and vibrant green color. Meeting import regulations for the United States and the EU while guaranteeing the exclusivity of first-harvest tea leaves is quite challenging, but our procurement strength in Japan ensures this. It is quite rare to find matcha that specifies first-harvest tea leaves as a standard; most products tend to be ambiguous about their harvest time, simply labeling them as "ceremonial" grade.
Through our system of shipping freshly ground tea leaves via air freight, we deliver top-quality matcha in perfect condition straight to your doorstep.
While direct delivery via air freight may be costly, as mentioned earlier, we do not go through additional distributors, which surprisingly doesn't put us at a disadvantage. The only slight inconveniences for our customers are the limitation of prepayment methods and a minimum purchase of 300g(100g x 3)*.
Currently, Ceremonial Matcha is priced at $199 for 1kg (100g x 10). If you use 2g per serving, the cost is $0.4 per serving, and if you use 4g per serving, the cost is $0.8 per serving.
*We also offer a separate product of 30g x 3 = 90g. While we understand that 300g might be too much for individual customers, this option is also available for business use. As it is priced for business use, it is considerably cheaper than the retail price.
At the moment, we can generally deliver your order within less than a week after receiving it. We provide you with ultra-fresh matcha that has been ground only 2-3 days before its arrival at your doorstep!
We would be delighted if you could try our matcha, delivered urtra-fresh condition through our unique system. As we are still in the early stages of our business, we hope to develop it further based on your feedback.
Authentic freshly-ground matcha has a pleasant taste, whether sweet or bitter, and leaves a refreshing aftertaste. We want to share this matcha experience with people all around the world. Our mission is to improve matcha quality and become a reliable source for cafe owners worldwide who deal with matcha!
We are also planning to expand our product lineup using this year's first-harvest tea leaves between June and July, so stay tuned!