Hold on to your tiny whisks, matcha lovers: for two weeks only, Matthew Bax, the bar czar behind Melbourne's Bar Americano and Bar Exuberante, will turn a section of the main dining room at Supernormal into Samu, a haven for lovers of fine Japanese green tea. A matcha drinker for almost two decades and a student of Japanese tea ceremony, Bax says that his modern teahouse, which has been many years in the making, will focus on quality matcha and an "intimate and unique" ceremonial experience.
"It's very simple. Cue the 'less is more' mantra," he says. The space, designed by friend and collaborator Ravi Avasti, who also designed Americano among Bax's other spaces, will be contained inside Andrew McConnell's Supernormal for two weeks from 18 July during lunch and dinner service. A wooden bar will sit inside a purpose-built teahouse, seating just five visitors at a time.
"The original location inspiration was Supernormal, with its strong design aesthetic and great buzzing energy," Bax says. "I threw out a hail-Mary message to Andrew not expecting anything but, being the legend that he is, he saw the potential."
While Bax is typically tight-lipped on the exact details on what we can expect from the pop-up, he's taking his cues from chado, the highly ritualised Japanese tea ceremony: only ceremonial-grade green tea powder will be offered (from tea sensei Adam Wojcinski and Uji-based tea producer Nippon Cha) along with "small, handmade and interesting" wagashi-style sweets by McConnell and the Supernormal team.
"We will respect chado with the product, tools and techniques, but it's not a traditional service," says Bax. "It's an unusual, special experience for people to interpret for themselves.
"It's time for people to understand what real matcha tastes like," he says. "Those huge jars of green powder you're used to seeing in cafés ain't matcha. I'm excited to introduce people to the quality matcha and multisensory experience of Samu."
Samu at Supernormal, 18 July-1 August, 180 Flinders Ln, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9650 8688, supernormal.net.au