Much Ado About Matcha

When CBS News ran a package on matcha in April, it marked a transition of sorts. No longer was the green tea called matcha, which as been popular for centuries in Japan, the domain of chichi coffee and tea shops in artsy neighborhoods like East Austin, Little Five Points, The North Loop and the Alberta Arts District. The CBS package meant matcha had officially “made it” in the United States.

Matcha Tea from Stockton Graham & Co.Within days, a headline in the popular daily Food Navigator blazed: “Matcha green tea market on fire, says report: This is not a passing fad, but a major trend.” The only thing missing in the headline were multiple exclamation points punctuating its palpable excitement.

The article proclaimed that sales of matcha green tea powder surged 54.9% in 2014, while sales of ready-to-drink products jumped an astounding 253%. The data was from SPINS, for the natural channel, excluding Whole Foods and covering the specialty gourmet channel and the conventional multi-outlet.

Although most of that demand is from the ready-to-drink market, matcha has been finding its way onto coffee shop, bakery, restaurant and smoothie shop menus at a rapid pace in recent months. It seems like matcha teas, matcha smoothies and matcha lattes are everywhere these days, and their distinctive green hue is being documented all over Instagram and Pinterest including art_maha’s Bibble & Sip and Chef Sylvie’s Matcha board.

And even during Stockton Graham & Co.’s Taste Kitchen in April, the Kamikaze Matcha-Frapp recipe we featured was hot. (Okay, literally, as the matcha drink included a half ounce of Torani Sweet Heat.) But when a simple matcha drink rocks the world of guests to a Raleigh, NC coffee roaster, you know it’s about to take off.

Stockton Graham Kamikaze Matcha-Frapp

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a stone ground Japanese style green tea. It’s a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. The green tea plants for matcha are shade grown for about 3 weeks before harvest, and the stems and veins are removed during processing. It’s got a very unique look – a vibrantly green color.

Matcha has been consumed in Japan for centuries. Sometime during the end of the 12th century, a tea called “tencha” was introduced by Eisai, a Japanese monk returning from China. Tencha is tea preparation in which powdered tea is placed in a bowl, hot water poured into the bowl, and the tea and hot water whipped together. This powdered green tea was first used in religious ceremonies in Buddhist monasteries. By the 13th century, Samurai fighters had begun preparing and drinking matcha as they embraced Zen Buddhism.

Why Drink Matcha, Anyway?

The green color comes from the chlorophyll, which is known for its health and detoxifying effects. It’s also an excellent source of polyphenols, antioxidants that may play a role in treating and preventing a variety of health conditions. One of the most potent of these antioxidant compounds is epigallocatechin gallate, also called EGCG.

According to a study published in the Journal of Chromatography, matcha tea has three times more EGCG than regular green tea. EGCG is a catechin, or a phytochemical compound that acts as an antioxidant to fight cancer, viruses and heart disease.

Unlike regular green tea that is steeped, the leaves are dried then ground into a fine powder. So you are actually consuming the leaves. One cup of matcha has 70 milligrams of caffeine per eight-ounce cup. Coffee has 96 milligrams for the same portion, but matcha drinkers say that their energy is more consistent, with less of a dive after the caffeine effect wears off. Matcha also has high levels of amino acids like L-theanine, which has a relaxing effect. Some report that drinking matcha gives them a feeling of “calm alertness” and kept their energy levels up for three to six hours without the jitters and crashes that came with drinking coffee.

Types of Matcha

Matcha can be a confusing category of tea. That’s because, there is no strict classification of match in the United States. In Japan, however, “matcha” enjoys a strict definition, and it refers to a particular variety of finely ground green tea that is part of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

True Japanese matcha – or, “tencha” as it is called specifically – is made from the delicate shade-grown tea leaves used to make Gyokuro tea. This high-grade tencha has an intense sweetness and round richness that is unparalleled. Tencha is the only tea that qualifies as true matcha in Japan, despite the fact that most “matcha” sold in the United States is not tencha.

Because of the extremely high cost of producing tencha, many tea suppliers and retailers have been marketing ground sencha as matcha. Sencha, in its own right, is a beautiful and delicious Japanese green tea that is bright, vegetal and grassy. A very high-quality tea, it deserves a coveted place in any serious tea store.

Whether tencha or sencha, matcha’s vibrant green powder is one of the newest health trends touted by everyone from celebrated chefs to self-absorbed celebrities. If you’re interested in exploring matcha in your store, we’ve done the heavy lifting and have a helpful list of options can help you get in on this trend.

Mighty Leaf Tea
 was born for the sole purpose of infusing life into an ancient indulgence by creating tea products that reach new heights of quality and innovation. Their passion is creating the most incredible handcrafted tea blends found anywhere, and globally sourcing the finest ingredients available. Paralleling the highest standards of quality at Mighty Leaf Tea is an ongoing creative innovation.

  • Matcha Powdered Tea
  • Matcha Green Tea Frappe & Latte Mix

Two Leaves and a Bud’s mission is to bring the experience of the gardens back to their customers. From providing tea that tastes as if it’s been plucked and steeped directly from the gardens, to education to help their customers discover new teas and appreciate them for everything they have to offer, Two leaves invites customers to “go there” with them and experience every step of the way how deeply and passionately they care about your cuppa’ tea.

  • Organic Sencha Loose Leaf Tea
  • Organic Orange Sencha Whole Leaf Sachet
  • Paisley Brand Organic Sencha Green Tea

Cafe Essentials is Dr. Smoothie’s gourmet specialty beverage line. Creating a stir in the specialty beverage industry, Cafe Essentials has developed multitudes of flavors that are sure to please any palate. These taste profiles are unique and exciting and that is what sets Cafe Essentials apart from the competition.

  • Matcha Green Tea Latte
  • Matcha Mint Chip drink mix

MoCafe has been offering high quality specialty beverage products including Original Mocafe Mocha, Caffe Latte, Tahitian Vanilla Latte and Wild Tribe Moka frappe powders since 1996. They also offer a Vanilla Smoothie mix, that’s a great binder to add with fruit. Mocafe uses select exotic ingredients for maximum flavor and quality, making them one of the top sellers of powdered base mixes.

  • Matcha Green Tea base mix

How to Prepare Matcha 

Preparing matcha is a little more involved then traditional tea. You need a tea ladle (can use the handle side of a coffee scoop), a sieve, a bamboo whisk (a traditional whisk will work too), and a ceramic bowl. Use the tea ladle to press the matcha through the sieve. Add two ounces of steaming water (176°F) into the bowl. Hold the bowl tightly with one hand as you quickly mix the matcha for one or two minutes using the bamboo whisk. Use a back and forth motion to really whip the matcha until it becomes frothy. Once the layer of emerald-green foam emerges, stop whisking, and enjoy!

For more information on matcha options and preparations, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Kamikazi Matcha-Frapp

During Stockton Graham & Co.’s Taste Kitchen in April, the Kamikaze Matcha-Frapp recipe we featured was hot. (Okay, literally, as the matcha drink included a half ounce of Torani Sweet Heat.) But when a simple matcha drink rocks the world of guests to a Raleigh, NC coffee roaster, you know it’s about to take off.

Stockton Graham Kamikaze Matcha-Frapp

Read more about the growth of matcha and how you can add it to your menu.

Taste Kitchen Helps You Shake Up Your Menu for Profits

When it comes to running a specialty beverage business, cafe or coffee shop, there are few things more important that the quality of the espresso and the creativity of your menu. After all, your customers who spend time and money at your store are looking for an extraordinary experience that they can’t create themselves — either because they’re too busy with work and family or they don’t have the mad skills that you do.Taste Kitchen from Stockton Graham & Co.

Creating a stand-out menu will not only attract customers who live and work near your store, but it can also turn your shop into a beloved destination—and that can create a tremendous boost to profits.

To help our customers create a crave-worthy menu of their own, we just held our first-ever Taste Kitchen experience here at Stockton Graham & Co. During the two-week event, dubbed “Shake It Up!” we hosted several local coffee shops and specialty beverage businesses at our Raleigh, NC taste kitchen.

“Unlocking your creativity and shaking up your menu with fresh beverage ideas can excite both your staff and customers,” said Taste Kitchen host Thom Swain, Director for Southeast Business Development for Stockton Graham & Co. “Differentiating your summer drink menu from your competition and supporting it with a robust promotion can help you increase sales by $7k to $28k, with an ROI of 275% or higher.”

Denise Floyd, owner of Ollies in Wake Forest (213 S White St.), was one of the first local stores to jump at the Taste Kitchen opportunity. Denise sampled Lavender Lemonade, Churro Shake and Salted Caramel Iced Coffee and decided to put them on her menu a week later as Signature Drinks. They are terrific companions to her rotating and inventive food menu, which has featured fresh quiche, chilled Gazpacho Soup and yummy scones.Denise Floyd of Ollies in Wake Forest

“The creativity with the drinks was great and the ability to use this creativity to improve our bottom line and stay ahead of the trends is a real help,” said Denise Floyd, owner of Ollies in Wake Forest.

Staying Ahead of the Flavor Curve

An easy way to shake up your menu is to add beverages that juxtapose flavor trends from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Drinks with exotic, spiced and contrasting flavors are increasingly popular, such as salty caramel, gingery peach and tart creams. A second major trend is a customer preference toward healthy, antioxidant-rich ingredients like pomegranate, acai, spinach, Kombucha, coconut water, rooibos and Matcha green tea.

“We wanted to give our customers a comfortable place to experiment with unusual flavors so they could create signature drinks that set their shops apart from others nearby,” said Customer Care Associate and Taste Kitchen presenter Chris Bennett.

“In addition to the drinks we planned to demo at Taste Kitchen, our customers were able to create different and unique recipes with a wide variety of products we offer,” Bennett said. “They enjoyed mixing Stockton Graham’s fresh-roasted coffee with Torani syrups, for example—and then mixing MONIN and Torani syrups with Mighty Leaf teas, DaVinci Fruit Innovations Lemonade or Cafe Essentials Matcha Green Tea Latte.”

One of Chris’ customers, new coffee shop owner Yusif Sheikh of Jets Coffee in Cary Towne Center, was particularly excited by the Taste Kitchen opportunity.

“I enjoyed experimenting with the many product options demonstrated at Taste Kitchen. The recipes were really great and tasty. And it’s really helpful as a new entrepreneur to have a great relationship with my distributor and coffee roaster,” said Yusif Sheikh of Jets Coffee.

Focusing on What’s Best for Your Shop

Since Stockton Graham & Co. was founded by former coffee shop owners—and many of our staff has retail coffee experience either as shop owners, managers, franchisers or Taste Kitchen hosts Common Grounds Coffee Shopbaristas—we understand that each store is unique. And so we take a consultative approach to our customers’ businesses, helping owners focus on what’s best for their particular business model, store concept and location.

Taste Kitchen took that consultative approach a step further by working one-on-one with store managers to find recipes that would work best or them. Sue Finch, shop manager at Common Grounds Coffee in Hope Community Church (1000 Perimeter Park Suite A) in Morrisville, NC, was enthused by the personal attention to her shop’s needs and profitability.

“We came away with great ideas we can implement right away and Thom’s presentation of options made it easy to focus on what would be best for our business. He has a keen understanding of our business needs,” said Sue Finch, shop manager at Common Grounds Coffee Shop.

“We will continue to participate on future events,” Sue Finch said. ” The time we spent with Stockton Graham & Co. gave us time for creative thinking away from the shop.”

If you want to shake up your menu or learn more about how Stockton Graham can help you build  your business, call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Shake Up Your Menu for Summer

Want to shake up your menu for summer—and boost your store’s revenues?

Dozens of local shops said “Yes!” and joined us at the Stockton Graham &  Co. Taste Kitchen in Raleigh this week.

The theme of the Spring 2015 Taste Kitchen was “Shake it Up” because we focused on combining the products you probably already have at your shop in new and exciting ways.

Stockton Graham Kamikaze Matcha-FrappBy combining ingredients like Matcha Tea and Torani’s Sweet Heat, for example, Taste Kitchen participants learned how to increase their summer profits by as much as $7K- $28K with very little new training and no new equipment.

Creating drinks with influences from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, favoring exotic, spiced and contrasting flavors will draw in more customers. This is all being sought out with an emphasis on less sugary, healthier options served as anything from traditional coffees to smoothies and gourmet teas.

Recipes from Taste KitchenDownload Taste Kitchen recipes now, and if you want to shake up your shop’s menu, call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 to get started.

Tea Lattes Can Help Drive Non-Coffee Drinkers Into Your Shop

Everyone is vying for the coffee addict’s dollar, but what about the tea drinkers? Just over half our population drinks coffee daily, while the rest are left with a paltry and mediocre selection of processed or sugary options. A great way to drive more traffic among non-coffee drinkers is improving your tea options.

The tea latte category has been quietly growing for quite a while, with chai lattes as the leader. But, tea lattes can be made with all types of tea: black or green, and even exotic options like rooibos and matcha. The basic concept of a tea latte is very simple… Instead of espresso, use a concentrated tea mixed with milk. Tea lattes can be made hot, iced or frozen.  All forms offer the same health benefits as traditionally brewed tea and are great alternatives to coffee.

TeaLatteMasala Chai is the most popular tea latte.  It is made with black tea that is brewed with traditional Indian Spices, sweetened with honey, and mixed with milk.  The popularity has led to several different applications.  Chai can be found in a powder form, as a liquid concentrate, or a shop can make it from scratch, which allows the shop to cater the sweetness and spice level to their customer base.

946-1111_matcha-posMatcha and Matcha lattes may very well be the next big trend in tea.  Matcha is a powder made from the leaves of shade-grown tea bushes.  These leaves grow slower and are much higher in chlorophyll, accounting for the bright green color.  The antioxidants are equivalent to drinking many glasses of regular green tea, and dozens of times higher than blueberries and other so-called superfoods.  A matcha latte is best enjoyed sweetened with simple sugar, vanilla or complementing fruit flavors to balance its intense and distinct flavor.

redespressoRooibos is a red “tea” made from the leaves of the red bush of South Africa.  One popular adaptation of rooibos tea is red espresso®, which can be extracted similarly to a typical shot of espresso. A shot of red espresso® offers more antioxidants than a regular cup of tea, is naturally caffeine free and helps soothe digestion.  Rooibos tea has a pretty neutral flavor and can be used to create endless combinations.  Red lattes are a hit with tea lovers, especially when enhanced with different syrup options.

Contact a Stockton Graham & Co. Customer Service Associate today at 800.835.5943 to learn more about offering tea lattes in your shop!