The Journey to Japan


September 13, 2013

Why Mizuba?

Mizuba (水場), means “living water,” in Japanese. Water is valued not only for its obvious necessity, but for its life-giving properties to sustain community and of course, make tea.

 

People gather around sources of water.

And tea is no exception. The story of Mizuba Matcha began in 2010, when Lauren hosted bi-weekly tea parties in her college dorm. Drawn by the community and fellowship that stemmed from the collection of friends around a picnic blanket and a pot of tea, her friends constantly stated, “Lauren, you have to be in the tea business.”

With a sigh and a shrug of her shoulders, all she could say was, “Well, that’s a nice dream…”

***

Little could Lauren possibly imagine that three years later her dream would come true. A spontaneous trip to Japan revealed what America had been missing: serious green tea. She marveled at how even “generic” and affordable Japanese grocery store brands of green tea were incomparably better than green teas she could find on the American market. Lauren's revelations didn’t stop there: one afternoon she and her traveling companions stepped off the Shinkansen (bullet train) just 15 minutes shy of Kyoto and alighted in Uji – serendipitously finding herself in the world’s premiere green tea growing region.

Lush tea plantations lay behind the hills that hug Uji’s city-proper, which is divided by a wide river that flows through the heart of the city: the Ujigawa. The Ujigawa is the center of Uji’s community: parts of the famed Tale of Genji takes place on its iconic bridges, it sustains Uji’s unique cormorant fishing, and it provides ample scenic locations for people to gather and stroll, picnic, or lounge. Soon it was teatime, and a short walk from the river led Lauren to the main street. Immediately, Matcha’s earthly, bright scents infused Lauren’s nose. Every shop that lined the promenade was a teahouse, tea purveyor, or restaurant featuring tea dishes like Matcha soba noodles. She truly found the happiest-tea-place on Earth, but the end of the street was home to the prize: an ice cream parlor with fresh, bright green Matcha soft serve. It ostensibly was the perfect afternoon treat after a long day of exploring, but one look and taste of that Matcha cone—complete with Matcha sprinkles—changed Lauren’s future forever.

Fast forward: after sharing countless, soul-warming cups of Matcha with her hosts in Japan, Lauren brought her newfound ardor for the tea back to America, and back to her friends. Fueled by the desire to pair passion with vocation, she set out to bring the world’s best tea to coastal California. Lauren began a relationship with a 100-year old family tea farm with the goal (& now years of success!) of importing Uji’s premiere, high-quality Matcha. Matcha from Uji is unparalleled to other locales even within Japan. Additionally inspired by the life thriving around the Ujigawa, Lauren started to share her enthusiasm for tea with family, friends, and the world. Mizuba Matcha was born.



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