For centuries, farmers in southern Japan have stooped over shaded fields of green tea. They pluck only the finest buds by hand, and then dry and mill those leaves into a fine, bright powder known as matcha. This ceremonial tea first enchanted Michelle and Ramon Puyane on trips spent sipping and nibbling around Kyoto. They soon dreamed of bringing the calming and clarifying effects of matcha back to New York City — and that’s how Chalait was born.
With a passion for Japanese tea culture, Michelle took a leap of faith and left the world of finance. On New Year’s Day in 2015, the husband-and-wife team opened Manhattan’s first matcha-focused coffee and tea shop — a contemporary cafe that makes the specialty green tea approachable while honoring more than a thousand years of tradition. Since launching, they’ve grown quickly and now operate three neighborhood shops — flagship café in Hudson Square, one in Upper West Side and another inside Chelsea Market. The simple menu of matcha drinks takes a cue from an espresso bar, offering shots of premium matcha, matcha lattes, matcha Americanos and more. Chalait also serve fine loose-leaf teas, specialty coffee, and a seasonal food menu inspired by the couple’s favorite recipes.
From Farm to Cup
What sets Chalait apart is not only a duo of inviting cafes and a team of fastidious baristas — it’s also how they source their matcha. While other tea and coffee shops order matcha from importers, Michelle and Ramon know that the finest tea rarely gets into the hands of middlemen. So they decided to directly source premium matcha from its place of origin in Uji, a region revered as the finest producer of matcha in Japan. Over the years, Michelle and Ramon have slowly forged relationships with farmers all over Japan, who supply them with the powdered tea served in their cafes. It’s no wonder why Chalait now delivers its ceremonial-grade matcha to dozens of cafes and tea lovers around the world.