Hello! Chase here. I am a fellow matcha lover and the Founder of Matcha Project.
It is interesting to think about how exactly I could have arrived in this moment today. Reflecting on some of the most influential moments or periods of my matcha journey and how I think about caffeine, there are 5 special things that come to mind.
I hope you don't mind if I take a little time to tell you a story. This is it... it takes place over the period of about 10 years.
Bienvenidos a Miami!
Our story begins in Miami, FL.
I lived and worked in Miami for about 4 years starting in 2009.
In that time, I became aware that in Miami, Cubans liked to drink something called “cafecito”.
This stuff is delicious.
This stuff is addicting.
No joke the first time I had it, I questioned if it was drug laced.
I felt wired.
Cafecito is made by a special technique of combining dark espresso and A LOT of brown sugar.
In Cuban culture, you buy un cafecito to share it with your companions.
They give it to you sealed in a styrofoam cup, and with ~6-8 thimble-sized plastic cups.
It’s incredible. It literally brings the people together. I loved experiencing this.
I would always try to pick some up on my way to visiting some of my Miami accounts — it was always well received!
This form of caffeine gave me a jolt of energy, and helped me power through many days. But I always struggled to sleep after drinking it in my day.
This is the moment I began to really question my relationship with caffeine.
Was it really helping me?
Or was it hurting me?
Were there better options?
My Kind of Town: Chicago.
3 and 1/2 years after I arrived, I left Miami and moved to Chicago.
At this point, I was working long hours often into the early morning, which aligned with my customer's schedule.
Coffee as you might imagine was still a major player in my life, but I was still questioning it's risk/reward for me.
It kept me alert and sharp when I needed to be on, but then I really struggled to sleep.
After about 6 months, I discovered premium Japanese loose leaf tea.
The caffeine in the tea affected me differently. I found that when I drank it, I was energized yet still calm.
Additionally, with tea there was no roller coaster of energy like I had experienced with coffee.
AND I was sleeping better.
At that moment, I was converted.
Tea was all I needed.
This began my journey with tea.
Fast forward a few years...
I found myself living (still in Chicago) just down the street from one of the only TeaGschwender stores in the US (a majority are in Germany.)
They had really good tea.
I would walk there most everyday for a post-lunch cup of tea.
One day, I saw matcha on the menu for the 20th time, and on this day I finally decided to act on it.
So I asked a few questions.
And ultimately decided to try it.
The taste was good, but what impressed me the most was what happened next.
I recall walking home and being hit by this incredible energy.
It reminded me of the energy I felt from that Cuban delight: cafecito.
And it really caught me off guard.
I was intrigued.
I had matcha several more times over the next 6 months.
However, I had yet to fully understand or appreciate the potential of matcha.
Japan for the first time & Tea or “cha”.
Fast forward another few years later...
I visited Japan for the first time.
This was my was my first time in an Asian country (where a large portion of the worlds tea is produced.)
I spent an incredible 5 weeks traversing Japan.
It was a positively humbling and spiritual journey.
While in Kyoto, I had the opportunity to participate in a private matcha tea ceremony.
This is where I truly discovered matcha.
It took place in a traditional home (100s years old) in a residential section of West Kyoto.
My host welcomed me with a bow wearing a traditional kimono.
She explained to me what was going to happen during the ceremony — it would be conducted in silence.
She then opened up a beautifully ornate wooden container.
Inside was a beautifully vibrant green powder - this would be the matcha she would be using in the ceremony.
Fast forward to the end — I remember walking towards the nearby Ryoanji Temple…
The way I felt was incredible.
I felt energy.
I felt peace.
I was completely at ease.
I felt reflective and I felt sharp.
It was an interesting energy. Something that I had truly never felt before now.
I spent the next few hours appreciating the beauty of Ryonaji — completely in bliss.
I was in love.
I left Japan and continued traveling through Asia for the next 5 months. I was able to see a few tea farms during this period of time, which I loved.
I went back to the US for the next few months.
Back to Japan: Wazuka, Kyoto & Obubu Tea Farms
In March 2018, I set out to spend 3 months living and volunteering on a tea farm in Japan.
But before I went to Japan, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Darjeeling, India where I got to stay on a tea planation for 4 or 5 days learning about Indian black tea production.
To get to see Darjeeling tea production up close and personal was really inspiring. I love Darjeeling tea.
10 days later I arrived in Japan for the second time.
I spent the next 3 months living in the small tea town of Wazuka.
Wazuka is a small community in the Kyoto Prefecture.
The pace of life was sweet. Life was simple.
Even though we worked each day, it was for the most part relatively simple stuff.
This is where I formally was educated in tea.
I learned so much — and consequently, fell (okay I had already fallen) in love with Japanese tea.
I spent an additional 3 months in Japan in the fall after leaving for a few months.
6 weeks spent living in Kyoto on the famed Kamo River.
Each day, I was able to walk to a nearby temple that was renowned for the pureness of one of its wells.
I was really spoiled with incredible tea water.
It made my teas including matcha so delicious.
I then spent an additional 6 weeks traveling around Japan making friends with tea farmers in multiple different regions of the country.
Sharing Matcha With Others
When I left Japan in October, I knew I wanted to do something to honor my experience of being a part of Japanese living. I knew I wanted to share Japanese tea. I knew I wanted to share matcha.
I really wanted to share my experience with other people.
And I wanted to educate people on quality matcha — there are a lot of inferior tea powders being sold under the broad category of matcha — and a majority of them aren’t any good.
I began sharing with my friends and family, but felt I could share with a community.
And thus Matcha Project was fully realized and born to the public in early 2019, in Austin, Texas.
I wanted to offer access to high quality matcha.
And I wanted to help people with their experience.
An incredible first experience, really sets the mood for the overall matcha experience.
I am excited to have you here. I will do everything that I can to help you in your matcha journey.
If there is anything that I can do, please reach out to me at my email below and I will reply to you as quickly as possible.
Now come along and explore the incredible world of matcha with us!
Matcha Project - founder