San Diego’s newest destination for matcha is hard to miss. With bold pinks and greens and neon signage, Holy Matcha is a unique take on the modern tea shop. “In the world of matcha cafés, there isn’t always enough space where you can fully enjoy the atmosphere and the culture,” says owner and founder Geraldine Ridaura. “I wanted to create a more open space where people can relax and enjoy their drink.”
After many years of working a corporate job in benefits, Ridaura spent time traveling and fell in love with matcha culture in Japan. Armed with a business degree from the University of San Diego and a newfound passion for the tea, she decided to go all-in on bringing her dream café to life. “I decided to pull inspiration from my travels and up the wow factor with the design to create something entirely unique, elegant and of the moment. The result is a space with cool, chill vibes but with an elegance that makes it feel like you’re at a modern-day tea parlor.”
For the design, Ridaura collaborated with San Francisco-based HOMEWORK. “I wanted to create a beautiful environment with a pink palette that blends harmoniously with the vibrant green of the matcha and abundance of plant life. I imagined this combination in my head and it instantly made me happy,” Ridaura says, adding that she was inspired by Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy, Sketch in London, Bar Palladio Jaipur in India and The Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu. “I wanted to create a café that surprised people and made them want to stay awhile. I already knew that I wanted pink velvet and brass and marble details to up the elegance, and for those elements to be juxtaposed with the green. It’s a timeless color combination.”
The build-out took five months, and no detail was spared. From the custom banquette, quartz bar, Parisian bistro-style tables, brass details, custom wallpaper and the fresh flowers, every element has Ridaura’s stamp of approval—even the serving ware. The bright pink chawans were custom made by Bay Area ceramist Tsuchikara Pottery, who spun the cups by hand, working hard to make sure the pink matches the rest of the decor.
Unlike the space, the menu is relatively simple. Everything is 100% dairy-free—a point Ridaura says further sets them apart from other cafés—and the drinks range from straight matcha to playful recipes like horchata and matcha lemonade. Organic and gluten-free snacks round out the offerings. “It certainly has been harder to get the right flavors on point by using alternatives and dairy-free products,” she says. “But it’s what I wanted to do since the beginning. I wanted to prove that having a healthy lifestyle or drinking a coffee alternative does not need to be boring.”
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