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  • Writer's pictureAlex


SUMMARY OF THE INTERVIEW Broadcasted on Friday, September 2, 2022

Yoi Don! 's popular corner "My neighbor's living national treasure" Keihan Main Line Kiyomizu Gojo / Part 2

With Jerry Gin & Kazuhiro Unagi

MANDARACHA’s owner Alexander Nicolau was introduced in the program, certified as a Living National Treasure!

Explanations of Japanese teas & landscapes from Yakushima to Niigata are shown on a projector. Alexander visits all those places by himself to meet farmers and select teas. Kagoshima has the largest production volume, Shizuoka comes second, and the third is Mie.

"I want to promote and protect teas produced in small villages."

I had the vision of the underground Zen Garden and we made it from scratch.

A place where you can relax is very important. Tea is about taking time.

Tea is very important for one’s own self, health, friends."

I consider that a hand-made garden/fountain contributes to enhance our senses.

All the basic elements are present: stones, plants, bamboo, water.

Tea is also about enjoyment using our five senses."

We also made a unique tea table, comprising the 6 types of tea in the world: white, green, yellow, blue, red, and black. Black is a truly fermented tea, like Pu-erh."

Ever since Alexander was a child, he has been fascinated by Japanese culture. In 2010 he moved to Japan and visited farms all over the country. He wanted to create a shop that only offers top and particular tea leaves products, so he opened his dream shop after building the place and lots of DIY with several artisans.

There are many types of Japanese teas. For example, Karigane is made of stems of tea destined to become Gyokuro (sweet shaded green tea).

I am a scientific engineer and I was the innovation manager for 8 years at Suntory. Salary is not the most important thing in life. Doing things with passion and dedication is. I want to introduce Japanese tea to the world so we made this place like a tea temple. But if we are too strict with tea procedures, people are intimidated. It is important to have a pleasant, refined yet simple moment. It should be fun and enjoyable.

We want to offer a taste of the diversity and quality of Japanese teas.

Alexander Nicolau continues to pour his passion into Japanese tea using innovations at his store? He built a special tea server to dispense teas and offering a new layer of mouthfeel and taste.

It tastes and feels very different from cold brewed tea. This unique design fully dedicated for dispensing tea was thought and built by Mr. Nicolau

Even non-matcha teas can be silky and drunk stylishly. This is the first time Japanese teas from all regions are offered in this way, creating an unmatched experience.

"The world of Japanese tea is a great culture, but unfortunately it still feels like a closed space, with many rules that are intimidating and details that are not shared. However, we should spread this goodness to the rest of the world.

Creating new value is the way, but we always respect the tea and the work of the tea farmers. Tea should be cherished and drunk every day."

Do you plan to focus in Japan or expand overseas in the future?

"Both: My dream is to increase the number of people awakening with tea. I feel there could be a place for MANDARACHA in Singapore, Taiwan, Germany, and France. I think people would be happy to enjoy our concept the same as they do in our store in Kyoto."

There will be the world Expo in Osaka in 2025, during which people from all over the world will visit. It will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase good old traditions of Japan in such a modern way. According to Alexander Nicolau, Innovation and having a pleasant time are essential, but respect to tea is also a must.

Mr. Nicolau, who loves Japanese tea so much he created a tea server, is currently focusing on fusion of tea with music. Vegan desserts and ice creams are recommended for Japanese tea and can be enjoyed while listening to live music.

Japanese tea is limitless. I am always keeping in mind the next step. One day, I want to have my own tea plantation.

Certified as a Neighbour Living National Treasure No.5643!


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