In a sea of black-and-white coffee shops, there's a new, perfectly pink café landing in North Park next week. And this one is serving up a different form of caffeine.
Holy Matcha officially opens doors on Saturday, March 11 at 3118 University Ave. For those living under a rock, matcha tea is currently the "it beverage" in major metropolitan cities; New York has embraced an influx of matcha cafes over the last few years, and San Diego is about to get its own first taste of the trend.
Owner and founder Geraldine Ridaura came up with this concept after living in New York City and finding that she could seemingly order matcha anywhere. Born in Mexico and a graduate of USD (where she studied business admin), Ridaura began experiencing negative reactions to coffee, such as migraines and nausea.
"I discovered that matcha treats me really, really well. I can have so many cups of matcha, but I don't feel dizzy, I don't feel nauseous. I just feel so much better," she said.
The green powdered tea, made from actual tea leaves ground into a fine powder, has been a part of Japanese tea ceremonies since the 12th century. It's praised for being rich in antioxidants and containing a strong dose of caffeine without the side effects that coffee can stir up.
By June of last year, Ridaura had committed to the idea of moving back to San Diego and building Holy Matcha. She envisioned jungle plants and pink walls to offset the distinctively green drink. In August, she found the space and started construction by December. Now, in this whirlwind opening, Ridaura is ready to enlighten San Diegans on all the advantages of matcha.
"The biggest benefit is the antioxidants," Ridaura said. "It really helps me with the swelling of my knee if I'm standing for a long time. I have noticed that my face is brighter. It's really good for me to wake up in the morning, because it has some caffeine. It just clears my mind because I can focus and it does not affect my nervous system like coffee does."
On the menu, guests will find three different grades of matcha. The first is ceremonial tea, served with hot water only, intended for purists and made with the highest quality of green tea powder. The second is premium grade, served with water as well, but available hot or cold (Ridaura prefers it hot) for an everyday-type experience. The third grade will be used for matcha lemonade and matcha lattes, made with coconut milk or almond milk.
For a small bite, the café plans to serve avocado toast and almond butter toast, yogurt bowls with seasonal fruit and matcha chia seed pudding. Pastries will be constantly rotating, but expect the matcha donut to always be present.
The space itself is stimulating in its own way. Ridaura worked with San Francisco-based design firm HOMEWORK to create a 1200 square foot pink paradise with gold accents, marble countertops and foliage-worshipping wallpaper.
"Since matcha is in-your-face green, I thought let's just go crazy and do pink. I wanted jungle-y vibes because I love plants. I wanted chic, minimal, chill vibes," she said.
Holy Matcha will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily starting March 11.
3118 University Ave., North Park. holymatchasd.com