The Origin Story: Why Matcha?

My mind works in weird ways. Bear with me on this one. It’ll get better. If you’re not as interested in hearing me ramble about my life, stay tuned for the later posts.


The Origin Story: Why Matcha? [here]

The Brew: From CAD to Prototype to Manufacturing (coming soon)

The Guts: Stress and Performance Testing (coming soon)

The Polish: Packaging and Aesthetics (coming soon)


What is Matcha?

Matcha is a bright green tea because it’s made of ground green tea leaves, which are in a much fresher state than that of your typical breakfast tea. Describing its taste is difficult – just like it’s hard to describe coffee or other teas to someone who hasn’t tried them. Compared to those, matcha has a lighter, slightly earthy taste (think the good parts of freshly mown grass) with a hint of milky sweetness. Most other teas and coffees have a sort of fruity acidity instead. All of them go well with creamer and sugar, but while black/red tea and coffee are strong enough to contrast with the taste of sweetened milk, matcha adds a more subtle tweak that’s still clearly distinguishable if you ever try it.

Matcha goes well with dairy products, especially when you’re using the less-expensive lower grades that tend to be bitter when used alone. It’s like chocolate in a way, complementing sweetness with its complex and lightly bitter taste. I tried green tea lattes at a local coffee shop with the matcha craze sweeping the nation, and was immediately reminded of a dessert that I enjoyed as a kid.

Ice Cream

My parents came from Hong Kong. I grew up in California learning both Chinese and English. Not because of necessity (both of them went to college in England), but because they felt like keeping our heritage alive was important. I have a lot of assorted stories that I’d love to tell, but only one comes to mind that’s relevant.

There was an Asian shopping center near our house, about a mile. Aside from groceries, we’d get assorted desserts every once in a blue moon – bird’s nest soup, black sesame dumplings, or ice cream mochi. Green tea and coffee flavors were my favorite. I totally recommend looking for some if you get the chance. Besides the novelty, they’re also smaller serving sizes of high-quality ice cream.

Which then leads me to segue into the reason the Matcha is designed the way it is: I have oddly specific tastes in pretty much everything.

Shoes

I’m 5’0” and finding good clothes is hard. I do some minor tailoring, but otherwise it’s just a matter of figuring out what doesn’t look too silly. Uniqlo tshirts and Levi’s jeans make up a big portion of my wardrobe.

I got fitted for running shoes at a local store and learned that narrower (B width) shoes work the best. Most shoe models don’t come in B width… unless you’re a woman. I’ve been wearing women’s running shoes for the past five years, which works just fine because my favorite colors are shades of dark purple. For some reason a lot of men’s shoes at the time stuck to white and blue, white and red, or just pure black. No variety. My shoes, on the other hand, look nice and feel great.

And then I got these. Mint green with lime and coral accents. A bit apprehensive at first due to the more pastel-esque colors, but my friend thought they were great, and inside I completely agreed. On the practical side, decent cushioning with drainage holes for rainy days, and deep treads mean that they’ll last quite a long time.

The Matcha’s design kind of parallels my taste in shoes (and pretty much everything else). I knew I had to do a light green colorway of some kind, if I ever got the chance to do so. The weight distribution and shape would be built to my liking, while being decent in performance and sufficiently durable. That will be expanded upon in the next post.

Matcha & ThrowCafe

The naming theme was actually inspired by another design I was toying around with. Someone suggested a coffee-related name for that design, and I’d recently discovered good coffee (praise Peet’s Holiday Blend) along with chai tea, so it was decided. Yoyos and (non-alcoholic) brews would be the theme of the yoyos I’d design.

The overarching brand name is ThrowCafe. My goal is to design yoyos that skirt the edge of standard designs, mixing together a touch of organic design with a tilt toward performance and a solid framework of reliability. Or put it this way: they spin gud enough. Just like at your local coffee shop, they’ll be a bit more expensive than products from the bigger chains, and come with quirkier options to make up for it.


Any comments, suggestions about my writing style, or random questions you want to ask are all encouraged. I’ll be trying to get the next post up in less than a week this time.