It is no exaggeration to say that we all want this global pandemic to end, so that we may resume with our normal lives. So many of us are dreaming of travelling overseas for a breath of fresh air. But as the old adage says, we should make the best of what we have. Roji Cha is a tea brand that takes inspiration from the ancient tea drinking tradition and flavours of Japan, but infuses it with a fun, playful and modern twist. One sip of their teas and you are sure to be transported straight to the land of the rising sun. So take a sip, close your eyes, and be whisked away...
We caught up with tea master Lim Tian Wee, the founder of Gryphon Tea and Roji Cha, as he enlightened us on why he started Roji Cha, the beauty of tea and the many unique flavours they have to offer, including our favourite Koku Yuzu Kukicha! This heavenly tea blend of takes inspiration from one of Japan's most famous fruits, the cheery Yuzu.
Japan is home to many citrus varieties, but the most prized of all is Yuzu. Also known as the Japanese grapefruit, Yuzu has been cultivated in Japan for close to 1,500 years. It is around the size of a golf ball and comes in colours like yellow and orange. Its citrusy and fragrant flavour makes it a popular ingredient in teas, sweets and even liqueurs. Its reputation as a power ingredient has landed itself snugly in the beauty community too. Fun fact: We use this ingredient in our Camelina Omega-C Brightening Fluid as well, to help give your skin a vitamin boost and radiant glow!
Hi Tian Wee! Can you tell us more about Roji Cha and what makes it unique?
Tian Wee: Tea began its life as medicine but soon evolved into a treasure beverage in China, eventually making its way into Japanese culture. However, the next generation of consumers are turning their backs on the tradition and a traditional cup of tea is increasingly perceived as an unexciting option.
With Roji Cha, we wanted to break out from the typical Japanese or Chinese-centric teas available in the market by bringing everyone a fun and youthful Japanese tea product. We want to cultivate and enhance tea drinking among consumers with more choices of flavours and varieties.
What inspired you to create Roji Cha?
Tian Wee: Tea is the 2nd most popular drink in the world an an essential beverage that's deeply entrenched in many of our daily diets. Historically, tea has played an important economic role in the development of international trade. Tea is an important commodity for many developing countries, and an essential crop that supports the livelihoods of farmers and villagers.
There has been growing interest in alternative lifestyles like tea culture. This is the result of an affluent society. Higher disposable income and recreation time has spurred people to try and experiment with new ideas and products. Our urban lifestyle has also created opportunities for tea to reinvent itself and present itself in new flavours, concepts and packaging.
Coming from a lineage of tea traders, was it hard to move away from the old ways of doing business? What was the journey like?
Tian Wee: It's exciting. I have always enjoyed the creation process and seeing the response of our customers brings joy to me. As one of the world's oldest beverage, tea is a staple of Asian culinary culture and it's my responsibility as a tea maker to continue to spark the interest of modern tea lovers around the world.
Considering your background in a Chinese tea company, why create Roji Cha which is a brand centred around Japanese teas? Why not expand under Gryphon Tea?
Tian Wee: As tea experts, we want to challenge ourselves by entering into a new category. Roji Cha is a way for us to channel our expertise in tea into a new brand and allows us to express it in a different brand language. We want to bring our customers new taste sensations and experiences , which is why Gryphon Tea decided to introduce a green tea specialised brand through Roji Cha - a brand that acknowledges the trend of modern and balanced living. Through Roji Cha, we hope to be a leader in the green tea category and source the best green tea from around the world, with a strong focus on product innovation and new taste experiences.
The tea industry has been flourishing with so many choices. Tell us why tea drinkers should give Roji Cha a try.
Tian Wee: Roji Cha is a brand that's fun and enjoyable. I guess you could call it trendy and non-traditional. It's inclusive, not exclusive. It offers a new taste profile and brand experience that makes it palatable to younger audiences.
What is something special about Japanese teas?
Tian Wee: Japan is a relatively small tea producer, but produces some of the highest quality green teas in the world. It's a country with a strong tea foundation and for this reason, we've chosen to work with some of the best tea factories in Japan for Roji Cha.
Can you tell us more about Roji Cha's Japanese roots?
Tian Wee: Roji actually means 'dewy ground' and is the Japanese term used for the garden through which one passes to the chasitsu for the tea ceremony. Roji generally cultivates an air of simplicity and purity. It is a journey to cleanse one's mind and spirit, and receive the pure essence of Mother Nature.
Yuzu is a zesty fruit that provides a refreshing taste compared to the lightness of teas in general. Why use this fruit as your muse for the Koku Yuzu Kukicha tea?
Tian Wee: Few people are aware that Japan actually produces many fine citrus varieties like Kabosu, Mikan and Sudachi. We chose Yuzu because it is the most accessible to outsiders, due to its popularity and unique scent signature.
How is your Koku Yuzu Kukicha is made and what differentiates it from the current Yuzu teas under Gryphon Tea?
Tian Wee: Koku Yuzu Kukicha is made of Japanese Sencha, a type of steamed green tea, Kukicha, a type of twig green tea, and Yuzu from Kochi prefecture in Japan. We've also added Konpeito, a traditional Japanese hard candy - which makes it very different from the Yuzu teas under Gryphon Tea.
What are some of the benefits of Yuzu?
Tian Wee: Yuzu contains several antioxidants, including vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and limonene help neutralise harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation in your body. Inhaling the aroma of Yuzu also helps to reduce your heart rate and relieve stress, anxiety and other tensions.