As a part of a wave of Asian dessert places cropping up around the city, the international matcha chain Tsujiri opened a new location on Crescent in December. The Japanese tea shop has been serving matcha since 1860, having started as a chaho, meaning tea shop in Japanese, in Kyoto and now aims to bring authentic Japanese tea into the heart of Montreal.
Tsujiri Montreal distinguished itself from the other Canadian branches in Vancouver and Toronto by expanding beyond their internationally renowned counter-service. Paco Cheng, the owner of Tsujiri Montreal, integrates a dine-in area serving dishes exclusive to select locations of the chain such as large-sized parfaits and freshly prepared matcha soufflé.
“Some of the [other Canadian Tsujiri chains] only offer the counter menu […], which serves ice cream, lattes, and parfait,” Cheng said. “But in Montreal, we also have a dine-in section. We have a café for the customers for drinks and desserts, and at the back, we have a restaurant, [where we serve products] prepared fresh everyday.”
Cheng added that the branch aims to bring a genuine matcha experience to Montreal by using tea directly from Japan.
“[Some other tea stores] use powder, [and] they use [flavouring], which is, in our opinion, unhealthy,” Cheng said. “We sell authentic tea […], which is imported directly from Japan. We really want to keep the highest standard we can.”
Matcha drinks could be used as an alternative for other stimulants, such as coffee or energy drinks. According to a 2017 study published on Food Research International, matcha tea may have an effect on reaction speed and long-term memory, which can be useful for students who wish to study long hours.
“Matcha is a healthy drink if you compare [it] to coffee, which makes you high very quickly and leads to a quick drop,” Cheng said. “Matcha itself has a lot more nutrition than any other teas. The way we make matcha [is] we take tea leaves, we process it by drying them, and then we stone grind the tea leaves into a fine powder. So when you start to drink the matcha, you actually drink the entirety of the tea leaves.”
Tsujiri takes the stimulating effects of the product and twists them into new and exciting combinations. Perusing through their Instagram page, one can see all things green ranging from matcha noodles in a modern take on chasoba to their own take on the American sundae. For Tieng Yin, counter-service staff at Tsujiri, she found the store’s take on a beloved fuel for students, coffee, to be her favourite.
“My favourite product here is the Kinako Kuromitsu Latte,” Yin said. “[There is…] Japanese black sugar, and soy bean powder inside the drink.”
The store’s inventive use of these green tea leaves has attracted a diverse range of customers who are eager to experience the world-famous Tsujiri matcha products. Locals and tourists alike come to visit and try out the drinks and desserts Tsujiri has to offer.
“Montreal is a special city,” Cheng said. “I can see there are local people, people from Europe, or anywhere else in the world, and they come into our store and start to enjoy the same tea as we do in Japan or in Asia.”