Recently, one of Pittsburgh’s matcha pioneers joined the cafe game with Mosaic Leaf Matcha Tea Bar. The storefront on Butler Street in Lawrenceville was opened last fall by the locally based Ultra Matcha company, which was started by Jorge Broche, Katherine Nguyen, and Scott Wells in 2017. They are regularly seen at farmers markets and other food events throughout Pittsburgh.
At Mosaic Leaf, customers can treat themselves to rose matcha lattes, matcha-infused caramels, and other beverages like hopped tea, as well as purchase Ultra Matcha’s hand-blended matcha powder. The space is similar to any new, hip coffee shop in Pittsburgh, except matcha is the star instead of coffee beans.
“It is basically our headquarters,” says Wells. “We knew we needed a headquarters to serve these drinks and center our company.”
Wells says having a storefront helps to spread the mission of Ultra Matcha, and the idea that matcha can provide healthy energy to people. According to the Mosaic Leaf website, the tea bar “provides a space for you to experience a variety of matcha offerings from traditional preparation to modern matcha lattes along with a rotating selection of in-house tea ‘cocktails,’” aka mocktails.
For a midday matcha, Wells suggests the Focus blend, which mixes matcha with ginkgo leaves and ginger. Wells says it’s stress reducing and a “matcha that gives you some energy to get some work done.” Lastly, the Recover blend adds in mushrooms and raw chocolate for an earthy profile perfect for nighttime.
“At Mosaic Leaf, we serve all those up in a really good latte version which is really popular,” says Wells. “We can make any of the teas that we have, and can also do it in the traditional way with a tea ceremony.”
Ultra Matcha sources their matcha from a small farm in Japan. Green tea for matcha is grown differently than traditional green tea, explains Wells. He says that the plants are heavily shaded, and harvest differently. This gives matcha special amino acids that Wells says can help “provide a calm feeling,” as well as a drink that is extremely rich in antioxidants
“It provides a good meditative sort of feeling, but not one that makes you sleep,” says Wells.
When served in lattes and other treats, it’s not as distinguishable from coffee as one might assume. When visiting the tea bar last month, I tried a cocoa mint matcha latte that was just as rich, sweet, and energizing as a coffee-based version. Matcha is surprisingly complex, and when mixed with other herbs and ingredients, can produce many of the same flavors that coffee lovers enjoy.
Due to the pandemic, Mosaic Leaf is currently only open for takeout, but Wells says if the COVID-19 cases continue to drop, the tea bar will make some seats available and have perks like WiFi for customers.
Wells says he hopes to see customers come in to learn about matcha and that he, Broche, and Nguyen are excited to meet new people.
Mosaic Leaf Matcha Tea Bar. Wed.-Fri. from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 3511 Butler St., Lawrenceville. ultramatcha.com