Our Islands, Our Future

Maui Matcha, the sleek, minimalist-style Kaanapali café in Whalers Village, opened one year ago by entrepreneur, professional nutrition expert and UH Manoa graduate Michelle Nayebkhil. Upon receiving her license as a nutrition educator from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in Washington D.C., Nayebkhil was convinced that the right lifestyle can prevent and possibly cure certain diet-related illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. To share this insight with the public, she launched the new café.

“The PCRM program was the foundation for Maui Matcha,” Nayebkhil said. “Food and drink are so important to a daily healthy lifestyle. The past few years have seen matcha rise through the ranks of the beverage hierarchy, particularly in the wellness industry. However, research has shown that matcha is far more than just a phase or trend. I wanted to do something health-centered, something that benefits the health of others and makes them feel good. Matcha provided a chance to do this, and to help grow a healthy Maui community.”

“The matcha green color comes from the pre-harvest shading techniques, a method nearly 1,000 years old that encourages higher concentrations of health-boosting compounds,” Nayebkhil explained. “Matcha requires a special type of preparation. It starts with the green tea leaves, but these are taken from plants that have been shade-grown. During shaded growth, tea plants produce more theanine and caffeine, which give matcha its distinctive intense taste and green color.”

At the recently held Maui Matcha one year anniversary event, Nayebkhil introduced a new line of matcha skincare products called MATCHA MCENTEA, by Maui resident Ashley McEntee. After being diagnosed with celiac and navigating a gluten-free lifestyle, McEntee realized her gluten reactions were also triggered topically through health and beauty products. “One morning, consuming my daily matcha latte, it dawned on me, why not use the vitamin-enriched properties of matcha by taking it to the next level and formulating equally beneficial products for the skin,” McEntee noted. “The company, founded in 2020 and built from the ground up, uses ceremonial-grade matcha tea powder, and is committed to taking a holistic approach to skincare.”

My vision is to get people to try matcha in all different varieties and flavors and to learn about its health benefits, both dietetically and topically. Michelle Nayebkhil, Maui Matcha, founder and owner