I discovered Taiki Tea last year, while sipping a cup of matcha latte at the Shoreditch Grind. Not only the matcha was on point, but I was pleased (and surprised)to read that Taiki Tea was an East London based brand. Since then I had the chance to sit with Natasha, and hear all about her entrepreneurial debuts.
Can you introduce yourself, and tell us a bit more about what lead you to create Taiki Tea?
Hi, I’m Natasha and I’m the founder of Taiki Tea, which is an organic matcha green tea company based in East London. I’m a lawyer by training (which I still do full-time) which often means that I work long hours hours in a high pressured environment. Having suffered from a few periods of stress and anxiety in the past I saw a nutritionist with a view to getting a life overhaul. One of the things we discussed was my reliance on a strong coffee to get me going in the morning. It clearly wasn’t doing my body any good and so I was advised to quit and replace my coffee with green tea.
Actually quitting coffee wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but it quickly became apparent that one of the things that I missed the most was the whole coffee experience and the ritual of making it myself or some fab barrista prepping me a beautiful flat white. Even though the variety of teas on offer are amazing, still simply having a tea bag and some hot water didn’t feel very special. Then I came across matcha lattes and I was immediately hooked. This was before the matcha revolution, so it was still quite a unique drink to find, even in London. I decided I wanted to change this and so I started Taiki Tea. I’d wanted to start my own business for a while but it was about identifying something that I was passionate about and also something that I thought I could build on.
How would you describe matcha to someone who never tried it?
A good quality matcha sound be like green tea but without that bitter after taste. It’s quite grassy in taste (which I love) which is perhaps why it’s primarily consumed as a latte. I mix my matcha up and love it straight up (with hot water) or with a dairy free milk for a latte.
What’s your relationship with Japanese culture?
It would be disingenuous to say that I have any specific relationship with Japanese Culture (I’ll only be visiting for the first time in October – but super excited). However, Japanese culture that has always really intrigued me, I’m a huge Murikami fan and Japanese food is probably my favourite. I love the appreciation of simplicity and nature that Japanese culture appears to promote. There’s a neatness and an ideology to how we should live that I find really inspiring.
I was recently reading about Kintsugi, which is a Japanese tradition of fixing broken pottery with a special powdered gold. It’s a beautiful metaphor for life, in that in fixing something which is broken you can make it even more beautiful, but that there’s no need to try to hide the imperfections when you do. This idea really resonates with me.
Since starting Taiki Tea I’ve also been reading and learning more about the origins of matcha and the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (Chado), it’s all about seeing beauty in simple everyday tasks and really living in a moment. Again, I think there are really important messages in this for how we live today and recognising what’s important in life.
Why do you think that matcha is so trendy at the moment?
People are becoming more conscious about what they’re consuming so are looking for healthier alternatives, matcha has been huge in Australia and the US for a while now and they tend to be ahead of us when it comes to healthy lifestyle. It’s probably also got something to do with a general fascination of Japanese culture. Of course, you can’t deny that matcha lattes also look super pretty and taste amazing!
Can you describe Taiki Tea in four words?
Erm, I can do it in eight “health and lifestyle driven organic matcha tea company” or simply “organic matcha tea company” but we’re more about just selling tea! Sorry, total fail…
What are your favorites spots in London to sip some matcha?
I love the Grind chain, Holborn Grind and Shoreditch are probably my favourite. The Hoxton Hotel is also fab, Ewan the barrista there makes a mean matcha latte. For some top chat and to meet some lovely guys, you can’t get better than Routes Coffee at Hackney Wick. Will and Jim are true gents!
Let’s talk culture, what are you 3 go to venue in London for art or design?
The Babican is really close by so, I’ll often take a wonder across there. I also love the indoor conservatory and the library is really good too. It’s one of those spaces that shouldn’t work but really does. The Tate (an obvious one, but can’t be beaten), and the Whitechapel Gallery.
What are your three favourite spots for everything lifestyle in London?
What are your three favourite spots for a healthy meal in London?
Moshi Moshi in Liverpool Street Station – it has amazing sushi and is committed to sustainable sourcing of its fish. It’s my favourite Japanese Restaurant. I’m loving The Ned right now, it has so many healthy options under one roof (Kaia and Malibu Kitchen) and are in a truly decadent surroundings. For something really posh and healthy, you can’t beat Ottolenghi.
The matcha revolution is on, what’s next for Taiki Tea?
We’re so excited to be supplying matcha to the beautiful The Ned and the whole of the Soho House Group, it’s felt like a real game changer for us. My sister (Melissa) has also now joined Taiki Tea and so we’re really focusing now on retail and would love to be stocked in Selfridges. We’re also looking at expanding our product ranges as it’s clear that our fans would like to see more from us and we definitely don’t want to disappoint. Matcha is our passion though and will always be at the heart of what we do.
I’m happy to partner up with Taiki Tea to offer % to all my readers across Taiki Tea’s website with the code TEA20 until June 10. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover their amazing matcha and other goodies. We are also organising a giveaway on Instagram so make sure to check it out.