Frothy, incredibly versatile and the perfect Instagram-worthy hue of green, Matcha Tea has been taking social media by the storm since 2015. Its lightning speed gained popularity mainly derives from its too-good-to-be-true benefits such as being packed with antioxidants and providing other vital nutrients like Magnesium which we lack in our usual diets.
So Secrets of Green has collaborated with supaT and caught up with one of their founders, Oliver English, to talk us through the world of pure, premium-grade organic Matcha — which you have a chance to win supaT’s Matcha Gift Set worth £34.99! The exciting details of the giveaway are outlined at the end of this blog post.
Interview with Oliver English
When did you get your first taste of matcha and what qualities about it inspired you to start SupaT?
It was actually many years ago – my Mum bought Teapigs matcha and we all hated it! I gave it another try when travelling and couldn’t believe the difference. I loved it, and when I read more about its health benefits that was just a bonus.
I’m a fan of traditional matcha tea (prepared just with water) but also enjoy the western creation of a matcha latte (sometimes with a squeeze of honey for a warming treat) – Yum!
Can you describe matcha tea as if I knew nothing about it?
Matcha is a powdered green tea, that has been used for centuries in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. It’s made from 100% green tea leaves and is the only tea in the world where you consume the whole leaf. For this reason, matcha boasts a wide range of health benefits and is a big driver behind its popularity outside of Japan.
People often ask me about the taste of matcha – knowing it to be bitter, strong and overpowering. Actually, good quality matcha should be creamy, rich and have a natural sweetness. Paired with typical Japanese umami quality (think miso soup/mushrooms) it’s delicious.
Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? And after that?
supaT started after I travelled across Asia and fell for matcha. When I came home, I was upset at the standard being served up across London. Using a contact I’d met on my travels, I started importing premium quality matcha directly from Japan (who only export about 10% of the matcha they produce) until I found one I loved – chosen for its creamy texture and natural sweetness, something I knew my western palette had been conditioned to like!
I was importing for myself, family and friends before deciding to test how other people/businesses would respond to a premium matcha. I set out, carrying a box of matcha around and annoying cafe owners in my area! Fast earning the nickname ‘Tea Guy’, people were really receptive. Many converted across from a drink they thought of as bitter and overpowering, something a good quality matcha should never be, and to date, I work with 43 cafes across London and have a small but growing group of customers who have supported supaT through the first 6 months.
Which aspect of Japan inspires you the most?
The addiction to detail. No shortcuts are taken, or compromises made when it comes to producing products and this includes matcha. I know the care that goes into growing, harvesting and even packing, making it a great place to do business with.
How does nature inspire you?
Great memories of being a kid and travelling across the UK – our families favourite spot was Dorset. My Grandparents had a caravan there, and Studland beach became a must visit. Beyond that, I’ve been all over the UK: Brighton, Southwold, Edinburgh, Dublin, Aberdeen, Cardiff to name a few. I wouldn’t say nature inspires me but relaxes me. For lack of a better word, I de-stress and unwind. Nature brings me comfort and a break from routine in the busy city.
What’s your next milestone?
To bring matcha to more homes! We think it should be in everyone’s cupboard. So, expect to see supaT pushing to be in the public eye this year, with a big goal being to land a retailer.
If you had to describe your business in three words?
If a kid walked up to ask for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?
We all want to launch a successful business as fast as possible – of course. But my advice is to stay humble, to put one foot in front of the other and to go for achievable steps every day. Always think win-win for people you’re working with. If you keep their best interests in mind by going above and beyond it pays long term.
Anything else you would like to add?
What’s been great about starting a business is the community of people I’ve met along the way – cliche, certainly, but the customers, founders and employees who support you in the early days keep the business going in those crucial first months. It’s the early supporters that allow startups to exist, and I’m grateful for that.
Written & interviewed by Iman Khan | Contributor to Secrets of Green