Silvia Mella, the Italian-born editor of many contemporary magazines such as MUSE and IDOLIZE now lives in New York, where she also founded SORATE, an online retailer of green tea and matcha sourced from the world’s most notable farms in Japan. We had a chat with the creative director in New York who is responsible for the many different facets of the brand and there is more to come.

IRMA: Why and how did you change your career in media into becoming an online retailer for green tea and matcha from Japan?
SILVIA MELLA: I needed to find new forms of creative stimulus. When I decided to go on a solo trip to Japan the first time, I needed a break from everything . What I found in Japan was much more than inspiration. I found a new way of living, new rituals, and new approaches. I decided to hold onto those rituals that the Japanese taught me and one of them is drinking tea.

IRMA: Why green tea and matcha?
SILVIA MELLA: For two reasons. First, making tea three or four times a day is a mindful ritual that allows me to take a break and use my five senses. Sensations include smelling the tea, touching the leaves, hearing the water boiling, watching the leaves unroll and dance in the water and finally tasting the tea. Secondly, my mission is to expand the knowledge of tea plants and their health benefits. Tea used to be sold as medicine and now is wrongfully considered only as recreational use.

IRMA: Green tea is supposedly full of antioxidants and has many more health benefiting advantages, it almost seems to be one of those “SuperFoods” – what expectations match the reality?
SILVIA MELLA: All expectations match reality but multiply that by 1000! Green tea is the number one plant that contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a very powerful compound called catechins. They work as antioxidants, preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals, which are the cause of cell damage. This means that catechins found in green tea not only help to delay the effects of aging, but they also work internally in the body, preventing some kinds of cancers (cell damage) and certain chronic conditions like diabetes and heart diseases. Unfortunately, in America, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) discourages the promotion of research and studies on health benefits in order to keep stimulating the sales of pharmaceutical drugs.

IRMA: Your product and the presentation seems to echo an aesthetic of simplicity – is this a concept, or unintentional? Tell us more about it.
SILVIA MELLA: It is definitely part of our concept. At Sorate, we want to do good, selling a product that is beneficial for the human body in a package that respects our environment. It is fundamental that companies and brands nowadays are conscious of what they sell, communicating good practices and promoting better living all around.

IRMA: Will you be adding other products from the superfood range?
SILVIA MELLA: Sorate is specialized in Japanese green tea and matcha. We want to be the best in this category. We won’t add other super food, but we are working on some specialty products and delicacies made with green tea and matcha. In addition, we are developing other ways to implement green tea and matcha into daily life, such as green tea extract pills, matcha shots, beauty products and home decor.

IRMA: Self-care in these uncertain times is very important – besides having a good cup of your tea. What would you recommend?
SILVIA MELLA: I recommend sticking to a routine, such as five or six rituals that keep you anchored on the ground. For instance, a daily 30 min walk outside, laughing at least once a day (which helps the immune system), eating well and having a good night’s sleep.

IRMA: Is self-care the new IT thing ?
SILVIA MELLA: I think in every decade, people – especially women – have worked towards taking care of themselves. Nowadays, we let ourselves be more exposed to unhealthy situations and our lifestyle veers towards unhealthy habits, so it is normal to feel the need to talk more about health.

IRMA: Would you like to share some ideas about cooking with matcha? Do you have a favourite?
SILVIA MELLA: More than cooking with matcha, I prefer to pair it with good homemade food. But I also enjoy using it as a seasoning. For example, when I cook rice, I add some Gyokuro green tea leaves with some vinegar and soy sauce. It is the perfect base for a poke bowl. I also love garnishing a squash soup. I make my own matcha salt, which is made by adding a spoon of matcha to salt. It works on any dish! Green tea and matcha desserts are also very tasty. My favourite is matcha cheesecake.

IRMA: Could you use matcha powder in your beauty routine, if so, how?
SILVIA MELLA: I do a matcha mask twice a week. Matcha is anti-inflammatory, so it really helps with blemish, redness and pimples. I add one teaspoon of matcha, a few drops of water to turn it into a paste and add two drops of honey. I leave it on until dry and then I wash it off with a soft towel.