About Time You Met: Vivid DrinksBy Angelica Malin
As part of #VividMatchaWeek, we’re discovering the amazing health benefits of matcha, as well as revealing London’s best matcha treats – from incredible matcha lattes to great matcha brownies. Here we meet James Shillcock, the founder of Vivid Drinks, the UK’s leading healthy matcha drinks company, to discover what inspired the brand. For more information, follow them on Twitter here:
What inspired you to start Vivid Drinks?
When I graduated I started working for a tea company in London and realised that there was a huge gap in the market for a ready-to-drink tea that actually contained real tea. As the idea developed I decided to create a product that promoted clean energy, productivity and focus. Matcha provides all of these benefits, naturally. Most brands tout physical wellbeing but neglect the majority of us working behind a desk who need mental energy, not an artificial high and low crash.
When did you first try matcha?
Whilst working for the tea company I was lucky enough to be sent samples of teas from all over the world, everyday. When matcha landed on my desk it intrigued me. I started blending it with different juices to begin with then just drinking it straight, like a strong green tea espresso (known as Koicha). To me this was the bridge between a regular green tea and coffee; it provides a good dose of energy but avoids the dehydrating effects of coffee.
Why do you think matcha has become so popular in London?
We’re a progressive city so people are open to trying new things but matcha has gained traction because it delivers on health benefits, clean energy and provides the caffeine pick-me-up that Londoners love and need.
The majority of matcha drinkers we talk to are switching from coffee because it makes them feel better than coffee did, simple as. The forward-thinking coffee shops who started serving matcha are now seeing the benefits of putting matcha on their menu.
What makes you different from other matcha products?
When we launched as the first RTD matcha drink in the UK back in 2013 it was a real risk that matcha wouldn’t take off, fortunately our belief in matcha has been vindicated and it makes me very happy to see so many new products hitting the market. Our premium grade powder offers the best value drinking matcha on the market but it’s our RTD range that sets us apart. Our focus is creating products that offer a real choice and provide healthy options for people who want clean energy. Our latest unsweetened drink is exactly that; not only is it free from any sugar, it avoids all sweeteners as well – too many drinks are compensating for sugar with sweeteners thus depriving consumers of any real choice.
You will never hear me talking about matcha in relation to antioxidants or weight loss. We leave that to other brands.
What’s the ethos behind Vivid?
We want to support and celebrate vivid minds. The importance of mental health means a lot to me personally and I launched Vivid to promote the values of clarity and productivity.
These days brain beats brawn yet most brands still focus on physical ability or appearance. We want to change that.
Who created the different recipes for each drink?
I decide the recipe for every drink. Once we have a basic formulation we work with an expert ingredient supplier to ensure we can create the drink in large quantities and once the team are happy with the formulation it’s good to go.
What’s your favourite Vivid product?
Vivid Unsweetened. 2 years ago when we launched people laughed at the idea of a cold, unsweetened, green tea drink – now it’s our bestseller. It’s great to see that that’s where the market is moving. We’re focused on creating the ultimate products for focus. People talk a lot about the impact sugar has on our bodies but they neglect to discuss how it impacts our energy levels, productivity and ability to focus. Launching Vivid Unsweetened gives people a natural energy option with zero sugar.
What does health mean to you?
Having a healthy mind; having the energy and confidence to apply my mind to anything.
What’s your favourite juice bar in London?
If you spot me in any juice bar I’ll buy you lunch!
London’s best coffee can be found at:
I don’t drink coffee. You can get a mean matcha latte at Holborn Dining Room on High Holborn though.
London’s best breakfast can be found at:
My house for Shakshuka!
One of your favourite restaurants in London is:
Flesh & Buns, all about the chicken wings.
Matcha brownies – yes or no?
Yes, although I prefer our matcha marshmallows!
What’s the plan for Vivid Drinks in 2016?
We’re launching our Charitable Foundation promoting improved mental health for young adults in the UK. We’ll be announcing more details on that soon. We’ve also got a very big product announcement coming in early 2016 – watch this space!