Calgary

Matcha cafe franchise expands to Calgary, Halifax and Montreal

A franchise that’s riding the matcha green tea wave is hoping Calgary, Montreal and the Maritimes will be receptive markets for a product line many Asians have been enjoying for years.

Tsujiri hopes to ride the wave of matcha green tea popularity

Franchisee Ken Wong hopes his Tsujiri opening soon in Calgary will tap into matcha green tea popularity. (David Mercer/CBC)

A franchise that's riding the matcha green tea wave is hoping Calgary, Montreal and the Maritimes will be receptive markets for a product line many Asians have been enjoying for years.

Tsujiri started in Japan 160 years ago. (David Mercer/CBC)

"I wanted to do something that wasn't saturated," Ken Wong told CBC News.

"Bubble tea is great, but there are a lot of bubble tea places."

Ken Wong says he was looking for something that wasn't saturated. (David Mercer/CBC)

He's rolling the dice on Tsujiri's first Calgary franchise, on 16th Avenue N.E.

It's a mixture of drinks and desserts with matcha at the core. Matcha is a type of green tea leaf that is ground into a fine powder after being shade-grown for about a month.

Matcha is a type of green tea leaf that is ground into a fine powder after being shade-grown for about a month. (David Mercer/CBC)

"Matcha goes through a drying process that's different from regular green tea. It goes straight to processing and sorting and into a stone mill that grinds it into a fine powder. This allows it to keep a lot of the nutritional value," Wong said.

The store will serve a variety of drinks and desserts. (David Mercer/CBC)

"When you drink matcha, you consume the entire leaf and you get all the nutrients."

Tsujiri started in Japan 160 years ago. There's a statue of the founder, Riemon Tsuji, in Kyoto, honouring his contribution to the tea industry in Japan.

The franchise has locations in Ontario and B.C. with new stores set to open in Montreal and Halifax. (David Mercer/CBC)

Ontario and B.C. stores seem to tap into a market, Wong said, which led to a downtown Edmonton location.

"People tend to be more healthy with their diet choices these days. Green tea and matcha is popular among young people and older people. Asian people especially, they really love green tea."

The Calgary location will offer a variety of teas, lattes and drinks as well as ice creams variations, pastries and lots of other sweeter stuff. (David Mercer/CBC)

Wong says many people believe there are significant health benefits.

"It has a lot of antioxidants. It has caffeine, but people find it's a more slow burning effect," he said.

Ken Wong says matcha is processed differently than regular green tea. (David Mercer/CBC)

"It's different from other teas, it's got a nice, earthy flavour to it. It's not so sweet. In the West, we are used to more sweet tasting teas, treats, drinks. So it's a nice change of pace. It's a bit of an acquired taste, but the more you drink it, the more you like it. It's got a strong flavour."

Wong says many people believe there are significant health benefits. (David Mercer/CBC)

The Calgary location will offer a variety of teas, lattes and drinks as well as ice creams variations, pastries and lots of other sweeter stuff.

Ontario and B.C. stores seemed to tap into a market, which led to a downtown Edmonton location, Wong says. (David Mercer/CBC)

With files from David Mercer

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