KAANAPALI – Maui Matcha, Kaanapali’s sleek and minimalist cafe in Whalers Village, was recently opened by Michelle Nayebkhil, entrepreneur, professional nutrition expert, and graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
After receiving her nutrition educator license from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in Washington, DC, Nayebkhil was convinced that a good lifestyle could prevent and possibly cure certain diet-related diseases such as obesity, heart disease or high blood pressure. .
To share this idea with the public, she launched the new cafe.
“The PCRM program was the foundation of Maui Matcha,” said Nayebkhil. “Food and drink are so important to a healthy everyday lifestyle. Over the past few years, matcha has risen through the beverage hierarchy, especially in the wellness industry. However, the research has shown that matcha is so much more than just a fad or trend. I wanted to do something health-centric, something that benefits other people’s health and makes them feel good. Matcha provided a chance to do so and help build a healthy West Side and Maui community.
A unique tea, matcha was once shared only by the highest nobility in Japan. It has gone from a simple aristocratic drink to one of today’s most beloved superfoods. Besides its long list of health benefits, matcha comes from a remarkable culture and tradition that should be pondered in our fast-paced modern world.
Nayebkhil opened his cafe to share his intriguing matcha menu to help reduce the subclinical inflammation that often underlies other health conditions. Simply put, she cares. Anyone new to matcha, or an expert looking for the highest quality ceremonial blends, will find it at Maui Matcha.
Imported from Uji, Japan, 100% organic matcha offers benefits that come from its special climate and growing techniques, which ranks it among the global antioxidants. The way it grows makes it notoriously healthy and energizing.
“The matcha green color comes from pre-harvest shading techniques, a nearly 1,000-year-old method that encourages higher concentrations of health-promoting compounds,” Nayebkhil explained.
“Matcha requires a special type of preparation. It starts with green tea leaves, but these come from shade-grown plants. During shaded growth, tea plants produce more theanine and caffeine, which gives matcha its intense flavor and green color. Growers start preparing matcha a few weeks before harvest. Tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight and provide shade. This slows growth and encourages the plant to produce more chlorophyll and amino acids, especially theanine. From this stage, only the finest buds are picked by hand and the leaves are rolled up before drying.
“Made into a fine powder by a stone-grinding method, the tea leaves used for matcha are known as tencha leaves. They are considered the highest quality green tea leaves and also the youngest in the harvest, which encourages soothing energy and mental focus. As the leaves dry, they begin to crumble and form tencha. Then the tencha is deveined and destemmed, and the remaining mass is ground into a fine, bright green, talc-like powder, which is matcha. It takes over an hour to grind 100 grams of tencha into matcha, and then the powder must be handled with total care.
Nayebkhil calls the matcha “the standard version of green tea” and notes that Maui Matcha has been “incredibly thorough” on sourcing only 100% organic, additive-free matcha. She noted that many traditional matcha teas fall short in this aspect.
Coffee’s premium organic ceremonial matcha, with 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea, has the most powerful anti-stress properties and has great benefits for well-being and longevity.
Maui Matcha’s exclusive matcha blend will also be available for purchase in-store along with a unique line of elixirs for matcha lattes.
The cafe menu includes avocado toast with organic sourdough and local chilli oil made locally with micro-vegetables from local farmers.
Nayebkhil’s own recipe for chia pudding, with blueberries, toasted coconut flakes and kiwi fruit, is second to none.
Custom matcha drinks with a choice of many ingredients are available. One of the most popular specialty drinks is made with an elixir of blue lotus flowers.
Additionally, the menu features matcha lemonade, lavender lemonade, and a mocha mushroom drink made with a blend of five brain-healthy mushrooms.
Young and old alike will appreciate the white chocolate croissants mixed with matcha, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and the moist matcha ice cream with a vanilla swirl.
“We have matcha affogato – ice cream with a glass of matcha instead of espresso, a real matcha blend”, Nayebkhil added.
“Everyone is welcome for breakfast, lunch options and all the treats in between. My vision is to get people to try matcha in all different varieties and flavors and learn more about its health benefits. We also offer a number of retail products, including handmade ceramic mugs and healthy daily mushroom gummies. Maui Matcha is a calming and friendly setting for locals and tourists alike,” she concluded.