Here’s the thing: they usually just put it in food. But recently, Gion Tsujiri started making headlines in Japan for their brand new matcha-infused cosmetics. Earlier this year, the launch of their Uji matcha lip cream got everyone talking.
Reasons to go green
Drinking green tea is healthy!
It’s full of antioxidants, said to help improve metabolism, lower the risk of diabetes by reducing high blood sugar levels, and prevent certain diseases (like cancer). There’ll be a good dose of vitamins and minerals in your brew, too.
Matcha’s even healthier than basic green tea. As matcha powder’s made by grinding whole tea leaves, it keeps more goodness than green tea infusions do.
Wanna know a cool not-so-secret? Matcha can be good for you without you drinking it at all. Like, if you pop a matcha face mask on. Pure Smile makes one, and you bet there are Hello Kitty matcha face packs too.
Uji matcha’s reputation
When Japanese people think ‘matcha’, they think of the Uji region.
Think of it like… wine, and the grapes it’s made with. Some areas, and some vineyards, make way better wine than others. It’s the same with tea. Like the Darjeeling region’s known for black tea in India, Uji is the place to get authentic Japanese green tea.
Kyoto proudly produces the best quality matcha in all of Japan. So it’s no surprise that brands rush to sprinkle Uji matcha over their products. Obviously, it’s in KitKats. It’s been a Pocky flavour. And Japan gave us the matcha latte, along with the matcha cappuccino.
Gion Tsujiri = Japanese for matcha
In name, Gion Tsujiri has been around since 1860. The company’s named for the Gion area of Kyoto. Where tourists rush to get a glimpse of geisha and maiko on the streets. That kind of name and association comes with clout.
The base ingredient for most of Gion Tsujiri’s creations is vivid green Uji matcha powder.
Cooking quality matcha’s a bit different to the stuff you drink, but it’s still top grade. It features in castella cakes, candy, and senbei crackers. And in something that Gion Tsujiri calls ‘gateau bubu’, which is like Japanese-style financier sponge cake.
If you just want the tea, you’ve got 20+ varieties of matcha powder to choose from. They have names like Old Kyoto, and Longevity, and Decadent, and Chrysanthemum. Actually, those are the best we can do – these were hard to translate!
Other types of Uji tea (houjicha, sencha, genmaicha, and others) are sold by Gion Tsujiri in loose leaf packet and as teabags.
Matcha lip balm and lip cream with real green tea
For a brand that makes delicious stuff to put in your mouth, a lip product was the most logical thing to do next. Both the matcha lip cream and matcha lip balm are collabs with established soap and beauty brand ‘Kyoto Shabon-ya’.
Gion Tsujiri’s made both with a special matcha green tea. It was first produced in 1994, to celebrate 1,200 years of Heian-kyo – Kyoto’s former name. The tea leaves were grown in southern Kyoto, and refined at a local stone mill. So these lip products are Kyoto matcha creations through and through.
That sense of ‘freshly picked tea’ also inspired the pack designs. Don’t the leaves and drops of water look hyper real? The lip balm pot and cream stick have a traditional Kyoto bamboo finish.
Don’t worry, neither of these are gonna turn your lips green!
Natural ingredients like jojoba oil, shea butter, and argan oil are included for extra lip moisture. The green tea scent is there, without feeling too strong. No artificial colours or fragrances used.
The lip balm and lip cream are – so far – the only 2 makeup items in Gion Tsujiri’s catalogue. What are they gonna add next, if anything? Matcha moisturiser? Green tea toothpaste (and a matching bamboo toothbrush)? Well, if another Japanese beauty essential comes out of this collab we’ll let you know.