Today we have such a special guest on the blog: please meet Lauren Danson, Founder and CEO of Mizuba Tea Company — the place where we source our high-quality, premium matcha for our Matcha Mask! Lauren is one of the kindest, most genuine and joyful people I’ve ever met. She’s an inspiration to me and and I’m so honored that she took time to share her story with us today.
I met Lauren back in 2016, right when I had just launched Berlin Skin and had no idea what I was doing (haha but really.) I was doing a pop up at Portland Night Market and my neighboring vendor just happened to be Lauren herself! We chatted it up and became instant friends — but I get the feeling she has this effect on everyone. ;) She introduced me to her matcha (delicious) and I showed her my skin care. It was there the idea for a collaboration was born, and in 2017 I began playing around with how to incorporate Mizuba Matcha into a skin care treatment. Fast forward 3 years and now the crazy-popular Matcha Mask is now permanently in the family of our core line!
Let’s get to chatting it up with Lauren!
Monica: Lauren, it’s truly amazing what you’ve built with Mizuba. It seems like every coffee shop I go into these days has your signature “Mizuba Matcha served here” sign…and I always feel like screaming, “I know her, I know her!” When/how did you start your company and where does the inspiration for matcha come from?
Lauren: First of all Monica, thank you so much for your incredibly kind intro. I am so thankful to live in a time of such an amazing network of entrepreneurial women! I truly think it is a special time where we see an abundance of community support for people who want to try and make their dream alive. I really treasure each relationship and connection I make. Building a business on relationships is much more enriching and I think it helps prevent folks from burning out. You really have to think about what you are living for. But to actually answer your question, I officially started Mizuba Tea in 2013. I’ve been studying specialty tea for the past 16 or so odd years, but it wasn’t until a trip to Japan to visit a friend that introduced me to the beauty of matcha. I was traveling in Uji and I had no idea how rich tea culture was there. Not many people had heard of Uji outside of Japan until recently! There was actually only one sentence in my guidebook. Uji: home of really good tea (haha!). turns out, uji is the historical home of matcha, being where the tea ceremony originated. Uji is to matcha like Burgundy is to wine for France - perfect climate, hundreds of years of historical knowledge and expertise, etc. I absolutely loved how tea plays a prominent role in Japanese society. Making and serving tea for another is such an act of hospitality and as a passionate tea enthusiast, I dream of seeing that level of everyday involvement with tea here in America :)
Monica: Tell us about your relationships with your suppliers and tea farmers.
Lauren: Mizuba Tea is built on relationships. I actually wouldn’t have started my company unless my matcha producer asked if I wanted him to send me samples of his tea! It was such a gift for my matcha producer to share his amazing teas with me, that his gift has driven me to learn how I can best share the gift of his tea with others.
Monica: What have you been gifted with and how can you share that gift?
Lauren: We work with 4 main matcha producers in Uji, and have been given the designated banner and flag of “Official Uji Cha Tea Dealer.” We truly strive to uphold their heritage art of tea. We also work with 4 more small, family Japanese tea suppliers throughout the country for our Heritage Loose Leaf Line. That last collection was such a passion project for me. Japan has such amazing, very unusual styles of loose leaf tea!
Monica: What’s the best part about being an entrepreneur and running your own business?
Lauren: Ohhhhhh what a question. On one hand, it’s been extraordinarily hard and sometimes difficult work. But the benefits: I sometimes say I take hours off, not days off. But, I do have the flexibility to say when those hours are, which I can’t take for granted. I love having the freedom to travel, even if I have to work a little bit while doing so.
Monica: You can only choose one Mizuba product to drink the rest of your life. Which one is it?
Lauren: Oh no. You can’t ask me that. That is a brutal question. Of course I’m going to say I love each and every tea I sell, and I love each tea for different reasons / for times of my life or different hours of the day. What I will say is that the word “kokoro” translates to “heart.” Our Kokoro Matcha (harvested by hand, from the oldest tea plants on the farm) was the first one I sipped from my main matcha producer and its depth and complexity of flavor blow me away, each and every time.
Monica: Where can we find you and support you in your journey on bringing premium matcha to the world?
Lauren: I'd love to share a #matchamoment with you at mizubatea.com or @mizubateaco on Instagram! :) We are also always available at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any q’s about tea in general! We love chatting all things tea! Speaking of…it’s just about time to make myself a chawan of matcha and enjoy a matcha mask! My idea of a perfect late afternoon break. 💚
Thank you for reading! We are so proud to put great thought and consideration into who we partner with for our ingredients, and Mizuba is no exception. If you want some matcha inspiration, I suggest you check out their blog for some mouth watering recipes and more! P.S. they also just launched a Matcha Latte Nut Butter and it’s everything.