By: Dana Rozansky
Every time I pop by The Wynwood Yard, it seems to be getting better and better. What originally began with a select number of food trucks, has since expanded in sheer volume and variety. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a cocktail and live music, an omakase style sushi experience, or just a simple afternoon pick-me-up, there’s truly something for everyone.
During my latest visit to the Yard, I stumbled upon a newcomer that piqued my interest: Yoko Matcha. While possibly the smallest truck in the Yard, it’s certainly big in personality. Not only does it have a totally unique concept, but once you hear the owner’s story, you’ll be running to the yard to get your green on.
Meet Chie Dambara, Co-Founder of Yoko Matcha and self-proclaimed “Matcha Visionary.” Chie hails from Japanese and Spanish descent and she pours her love and dedication into this small, but mighty truck. I sat down with Chie so that she could enlighten us on matcha, its benefits and what Yoko has got to offer.
Miami Food Porn: What inspired you to start this business?
Chie: I moved to Miami in May 2016 and soon realized that matcha wasn't readily offered here, and there was little to no knowledge of the amazing green powder. Previously living in NYC, where there are various matcha cafes and matcha served at most cafes, I saw an opportunity to introduce matcha to health conscious Miami locals. I shared the idea with Evelyn - a long time friend who had recently relocated back to Miami - and together we launched Yōko Matcha in November, 2016.
Miami Food Porn: How did you choose the name?
Chie: Yōko is my Japanese grandmother, who used to teach Tea Ceremony! In Japan, matcha is traditionally consumed in a choreographed ceremony, where everyone wears a Kimono and the matcha is prepared with hot water using ceremony specific tools. I was raised by my grandparents in Japan, so I was greatly influenced by my grandmother and wanted to name it after her.
Miami Food Porn: For those who aren’t familiar with matcha, how would you describe it?
Chie: Matcha is a flavorful green tea with incredible health benefits! Matcha green tea leaves are traditionally grown, harvested, and ground by local Japanese farmers to create this powerful green powder with a unique flavor profile. Amino acids in matcha contribute to its rich flavor, referred to as umami in Japan. Our matcha is 100% Japanese, organic, and ceremonial grade - the highest quality and most refined tasting. In general, matcha has a slightly bitter taste so at the ceremony, it is served with a traditional Japanese sweet to balance the flavors.
Miami Food Porn: What are its health benefits?
Chie: One serving of matcha has about ten times the nutritional value of a cup of regular green tea. Matcha is made from stone ground green tea leaves so when you drink matcha, you are actually consuming the entire tea leaf. This is precisely what sets matcha apart as a superfood - the concentration of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants in matcha are virtually unparalleled because drinkers ingest the whole leaf. L-Theanine, an important amino acid in matcha, improves brain function by keeping the mind alert yet calm, while the caffeine boosts energy and focus. It also boosts the metabolism and works as a fat burner. The chlorophyll in matcha serves as a powerful detoxifier; and matcha has no sugar but is packed with fiber, vitamins, iron, and zinc. It is also considered to be the king of superfoods because of its high level of antioxidants, called catechins, which provide potent cancer-fighting properties, among other benefits.
Miami Food Porn: Have you experienced these health benefits firsthand?
Chie: Yes, I have. I carry a genetic mutation called BRCA1, which makes me prone to developing Breast and Ovarian Cancer at a young age. To reduce the 80-90% chance of developing breast cancer, I had a prophylactic double mastectomy last year. I surprised my doctors with how fast I recovered from my surgeries, and I strongly believe that my daily consumption of matcha had a lot to do with it!
Miami Food Porn: What are the must-try items on your menu?
Chie: Yoko Matcha's menu personifies who we are, a unique blend of Japanese and Miami Latin flavors. I think some of our standout food items, like the matcha pastelito, bring that to life. We also have delicious healthy options like the matcha acai bowl, and our signature drink, the matcha coco, is a must-try. We like to get creative and offer customers specials - vegan treats, sweets, seasonal drinks - so be on the lookout for those as well.
Miami Food Porn: What’s next for you and Yoko Matcha?
Chie: Right now we are really focusing on getting to know our customers, being inventive with our offerings, and bringing the matcha craze to Miami. As we grow, we'd like to make Yoko Matcha more accessible to the rest of South Florida and the U.S. Our e-commerce site will be up soon and we'd love to expand our reach with multiple locations.