A tiny green and white walk-up window shop with a chalkboard menu now serves high quality, authentic Japanese matcha in various drinks and treats.
Bon Matcha, located at 1928 I St. NW, replaced the small ice cream window next to Poppa Box in mid-October. The small stand offers a generous menu including soft serve ice cream as well as bubble tea, matcha lattes and other matcha-flavored drinks.
Matcha is a type of green tea that is made from ground green tea leaves. Instead of floating the leaves inside a tea bag in hot water, matcha serves the tea leaves ground up inside hot and cold beverages and other foods. David Bae, one of the four owners of Bon Matcha, said he is Korean and wanted to open a place that served authentic matcha in the District, because he couldn’t find it here.
“There is no good Matcha shop in D.C.,” Bae said. “But it is everywhere in Korea.”
Bae explained that “Bon” means root in Korean and that was chosen as the name because all ingredients they use are organic and directly shipped from Kyoto, Japan. Every item that Bon Matcha sells does not contain any fillers or preservatives and is “ceremonial grade,” which means it’s the highest quality and could be used for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
The matcha latte ($5) is one of the shop’s best sellers, Bae said. It comes in both iced or hot options and can be served with regular milk or almond milk.
I ordered a hot matcha latte with regular milk. The semi-sweet flavor was satisfying without being overpowering and the fragrant green tea notes lingered in my mouth even after I finished the drink.
Bon Matcha’s matcha-flavored affogato ($5.50) is an Asian take on an Italian classic. In the dessert, creamy liquid matcha takes the place of espresso and is poured over the top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The outer portion of ice cream melts to combine with the matcha, making it even more creamy accompanied by the matcha flavor.
Matcha limeade ($5) is a sour, yet refreshing drink served over ice. When it was served, I noticed the hand-squeezed lemon juice sunk to the bottom while matcha floated on the top, creating a beautiful ombre effect where light green gradually turned into dark green.
The other four owners opened the matcha shop at this location because it’s a busy working area with many professionals and students, he said. One of the owners is Matthew Kim, the owner of Poppa Box, so the location was an easy grab for the four owners. Bae said he hopes the shop celebrates Asian foods and introduces Asian culture to people who may not have been exposed to it.
Bae said he would like to open another location of Bon Matcha in the future that offers a sit-down setting where people can enjoy matcha the traditional way out of decorative chawan, or tea bowls.
His products have already been popular on social media – especially the vanilla and matcha twist soft serve ice cream in a waffle cone, he said. Bae said the various posts on Instagram and Twitter have helped spread the word about the new hole-in-the-wall shop.
When I arrived at Bon Matcha around 2 p.m., they had already sold out of the signature flavor soft serve but people were still running up to the white and green colored window hoping to order a scoop, but leaving with lattes and other beverages instead.
“We have been so busy and sold out everything very fast,” Bae said.