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Tsujiri's iced o-matcha latte comes with matcha on top and milk on the bottom and should be stirred before drinking.
t the corner of South Park Street and Sackville Street, across from the Public Gardens and sandwiched between Halifax’s Citadel Hill and Spring Garden Road, is the new YMCA building.
Although the building is set to open to the public sometime this fall, it already has some residential and commercial tenants, including one set to open this Friday, August 28.
click to enlarge Tsujiri
The YMCA isn't open yet but their ground-level tenant Tsujiri is ready to go.
is a Japanese matcha brand that first started in Kyoto in 1860. With a history of high quality and tradition, it is also trendy and perfectly Instagtrammable, selling matcha beverages, pastries and even light food like green-tinted matcha infused soba noodles.
“Everything about matcha. In this store everything is about matcha or tea, Japanese tea,” says owner and manager of the new location Yichun Li.
Li got into the franchise through a friend who’s a franchise owner in Toronto. She says she completely stands behind everything that Tsujiri stands for, namely its high-quality matcha.
“I really respect and believe the Japanese spirit, the handcrafted spirit,” she says.
The matcha powders ship directly from the Tsujiri headquarters in Japan, at the home of the flagship store that’s almost 160 years old.
Li says the powder used is stone milled matcha powder, different than the similar-looking green tea powder used by some chain coffee shops.
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The Opera Cake includes 7 layers of matcha almond sponge cake, ganache,yuzu cream, and matcha buttercream.
“For matcha powder, we just keep the leaves part, we get rid of the stalk part. But green tea powder they just mix them together to mill powder,” she says.
The ower and manager says only five percent of tea leaves around the world are ground using the stone mill, which grinds the matcha so fine it’s hard to tell the tea comes from a powder at all.
“That’s why you cannot feel any powder thing on your mouth when you have it. For the mill stone we spend one hour to get 40 grams [of] powder,” Li says. “That’s why matcha powder is kind of an expensive thing around the world. The real matcha powder, I mean.”
The food menu will be released soon, but Li says it will be similar to the soba noodle and poke bowl dishes available at other Tsujiri restaurants.
“The ingredients are very fresh, healthy food, light food. Everything also is about tea and matcha, so we add matcha powder in soba, the buckwheat noodles,” she says. “And in our kitchen, no items are deep-fried or pan-fried things. Even the oil we are using is all grape seed oil and olive oil.”
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Yichun Li (left) and her team at the new Halifax location.
Li was a financial analyst before getting into the tea business. But she’s been involved in nearly every way, from day-to-day operations to ensuring the Tsujiri logos got painted on the store’s wood panelling.
“I want to focus on the quality of our food, drinks, everything here,” she says. “My colleagues always say no you are the boss, I tell them no I don’t want to be the boss, I want to be your friend and colleague.”
The original date for opening was supposed to be April or May, but COVID-19 affected the plans for getting supplies to the new location. “The matcha powder, the hochija powder, the key ingredients are all from Japan to here directly,” says Li. “We get them, ingredients from Japan to here maybe bi-weekly.”
Now that it’s finally time to open, the owner says she’s excited to bring the brand to Halifax and introduce matcha to people who may never have heard of it before.
“I still feel some pressure because it’s a new thing for Halifax and a lot of people they don’t, they didn’t try any real matcha products before,” she says.
will open Friday, August 28 and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 8pm.