Sitting Down with Jessica Mandelbaum, Co-Founder of PANATEA

Who better to sip matcha lattes with than the queen of matcha herself, Jessica Mandelbaum.  Jess and her husband Dave are the founders of PANATEA, which in our opinion, is the Beyonce of matcha brands. They have successfully made the ancient art of drinking matcha a relevant component of modern culture. So much so, that they have even launched a culinary grade matcha, meant to be used in original recipes and cooking. Here you'll learn why we stand behind the matcha movement and be sure to check out the recipe we concocted when we were left in the kitchen with a can of their new, culinary grade matcha powder. Guess what? Now you can get creative in the kitchen with your own matcha powder! Use the code tovita10 for a 10% discount. We can't wait to see what you come up with!


What led to the creation of PANATEA?

It was really out of necessity. Dave (my husband) and I have always lived generally healthy lifestyles. Coffee doesn't agree with us; it makes me feel jittery and it hurts Dave’s stomach, so we were always looking for healthy alternatives. We randomly discovered matcha here in NYC, at a random spot in Chinatown. We bought a package and started drinking it every morning. It wasn’t high grade matcha and we didn’t have a whisk to make it properly, but we experimented. We loved how it made us feel. Our skin was better and our energy levels were more sustained. We began investigating the market and realized that there was a clear opportunity to create a relatable and approachable matcha brand, with superior quality matcha. And thus, PANATEA was born.

Where and how do you source your matcha?

After teaming up with our Japanese tea master, who has over 20 years of experience, we traveled to Japan together. She guided us through the matcha farms and helped us find the most exquisite tea leaves. It has always been a priority for us to stay true to Japanese culture by not bastardizing the tradition, while still providing a modern spin on the whole process. Matcha has been around since the 12th century. Buddhist monks used to drink it before meditation and Samurai warriors before battle, to help them get in the zone and feel focused energy. PANATEA brings this ancient superfood to the modern healthy consumer.

How does PANATEA compare to conventional green tea? Or coffee?


With matcha, you’re consuming the full leaf. Matcha leaves are hand picked, steamed, dried, and then ground into fine a powder. When you drink conventional green tea, you only consume what’s steeped outside of the tea bag into your water; 10% - 20% of the nutrients depending on the variety and preparation. Whereas, with matcha, you consume 100% of the benefits. It's considered the ultimate superfood because it enhances antioxidant activity, supports metabolism and promotes energy and alertness.

In terms of caffeine, matcha has less caffeine than coffee. It contains about ½ the amount as espresso or ⅓ cup of coffee. It’s digested differently in your system though, giving you 4-6 hours of sustained and focused energy. Matcha also contains amino acids that help to give a calming jitter and no crash!

How else do you use matcha in your diet?

Right now I use our Ceremonial Grade matcha traditionally with water, or make a latte with a nut milk like coconut milk. I also love shaking up matcha with lemonade. It’s a really versatile ingredient too - you can add it to your morning smoothie, yogurt, pancakes, waffles, and even salad dressing. This is where our brand new Culinary Grade matcha really comes in!

What’s in store for PANATEA?

Our Culinary Grade matcha officially comes out this Fall! We actually just gave our community an early look this week though (check it out). We took a survey and found that 90% of customers are using our Ceremonial Grade matcha in their cooking/baking. We therefore decided to source a Culinary Grade matcha geared more toward this type of use. While it has a comparable nutrition profile, the flavor profile is stronger, so it’s better suited for cooking and baking as an ingredient in food, versus drinking it straight. The new white tin is double the size and lower in price too, more ideal for everyday food consumption.

Favorite PANATEA recipe?


I love smoothie bowls. They’re fun to make, they’re pretty, nutrient-dense and delicious! You get a lot of bang for your buck because you can mix in protein, greens, matcha, etc. For these, I use our Culinary Grade matcha, because it's mixed in as ingredient. I also love our matcha waffles.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things:

  1. A soma water filter

  2. My phone ( + a MEGA mophie)

  3. My husband, Dave

Food or ingredient you would never touch?


What is it like working with your husband?

The highs are high and the lows are low. It works for us. He handles more of the bigger picture vision and marketing, while I handle more of the day to day operations. I trust and respect that he’s doing a better job at his responsibilities than I could ever do, and vice versa.

Your motto to live by?

The journey is the reward. It’s not always about what's waiting at the end, but rather about enjoying everything along the way and taking away from it whatever you can.

PANATEA is all aboutA Ritual For Life.” This has also become a motto for me personally. It’s important to have a routine for yourself and carve out time to do the things that make you feel good. Part of what differentiates us (aside from quality) is that we encourage you to bring matcha into your own home. We have tons of cafe partners, from Fika to Hu Kitchen, so you can try PANATEA in different forms. But at the end of the day, our goal is for you to be able to make it your own way, in the luxury of your own home. Drink it, shake it, bake it, mix it - we hope you make it a part of your everyday routine.

Lastly, I always say “everything in moderation,” including matcha :)

With all of the amazing recipes PANATEA has to offer, we had to get creative to come up with a matcha recipe with the Tovita touch. What did we come up with?  Matcha breakfast tacos!


matcha breakfast tacos

Ingredients (serves 4):

For tacos:

  • 2 bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 tablespoon of Panatea culinary grade matcha powder (link)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • For cooking- coconut oil or olive oil based cooking spray

For Fillings (get creative!):

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds


  1. In a blender, mix together all of the taco ingredients until pancake dough-like consistency. The tacos should be a nice bright green color due to the  matcha powder 
  2. Heat skillet with coconut oil or cooking spray and cook 1-3 tacos at a time to avoid breaking. You should get about 8 tacos from the dough
  3. Spread either nutbutter or greek yogurt (or both!) on the taco, and fill with berries, coconut, chia seeds, or whatever other toppings your heart desires.
  4. Fold and eat like a taco. Enjoy!