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Restaurant review: Sip Matcha’s rebranding as Junbi brings comfort, options to Westwood

Previously known as Sip Matcha, the Westwood shop rebranded as Junbi after facing copyright difficulties. The bubble tea shop reopened Jan. 18, now featuring yellow walls and expanded seating options. (Keaton Larson/Daily Bruin)

"Junbi"

10967 Weyburn Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90024

By Olivia Bridgnell

Jan. 21, 2020 11:40 p.m.

Sip Matcha’s loss became Westwood’s gain.

When the bubble tea store Sip Matcha looked to expand, they said they were unable to copyright their name, so they set out to rebrand their company as “Junbi.” The reinvented bubble tea shop reopened Jan. 18 and is far more functional and cohesive than its predecessor. The interior remodel creates a comfortable environment with extensive seating, while the rebranding unites the decor with both an emphasis on matcha and an effort to encourage customers to step outside their comfort zone.

The Junbi menu remains almost identical to Sip Matcha. It retains its focus on matcha, serving 15 variations and flavor pairings, including strawberry, aloe and rose water. For their launch, they released a special drink containing yuzu, dragon fruit and matcha. The drink highlights the distinctive green color of matcha and contrasting fuchsia color of dragon fruit, resulting in a highly aesthetic concoction.

[Related: App developed by students allows users to track boba purchases, unites community]

The classic matcha milk tea features the earthy, naturally bitter flavor of matcha and milk, which can be substituted for oat milk, organic coconut milk or organic soy milk for 50 cents. At the regular sweetness level, Junbi matcha is slightly more on the naturally bitter side, but the combination with the milk creates a wonderful balance. They also did not excessively fill the drink with ice or with milk. However, someone with a sweet tooth might prefer to choose a higher sweetness level, a little extra milk or the 50-cent addition of boba pearls.

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Junbi offers one beverage size, though they offer 15 matcha variations and flavor pairings. (Keaton Larson/Daily Bruin)

 

Aside from the various matcha options, Junbi also offers food and classic bubble tea flavors. They serve salmon, spam and egg, and mentaiko rice balls, with the option to order two of each for $9, or two of one kind for under $4. Classic bubble tea flavors include earl grey and black milk tea, as well as more flowery and fruity flavors including hibiscus, jasmine and strawberry. Add-ons include housemade almond jelly, aloe, espresso and organic chia seeds for less than $1 each. These delicious drinks come at a slightly high price, with most matcha drinks costing $5.25, while the other teas are almost all $4.75.

While the drinks may be considered a splurge, it’s hard to find fault in the joyful storefront and inside furnishings. The interior and exterior are very cheerful and welcoming. The vibrant atmosphere is a perfect place to get creative, relax or work. It especially lends itself to sitting with friends with easily moveable tables to form larger or smaller groups. With light yellow walls, an abundance of natural lighting and a touch of greenery, this is a great place for people who like happy, bright environments. Sip Matcha only featured a standing bar; however, the remodel introduced thick-cushioned benches and stools around the tables. With the relatively extensive seating, the space is naturally more welcoming.

[Related: Restaurant review: New Westwood boba shop shares its tea with great flavors and study spaces]

The store contextualizes its main product matcha through its interior decor. Light wood-lined inlets feature shelving with pictures of actual matcha farms in Japan and books about matcha ranging from matcha recipes to matcha farming. Succulents and other plants sit on the tables and shelves. This nature motif connects to matcha’s origination in Japan and helps the customer understand the bigger picture surrounding their single matcha drink in hand. The cohesiveness between the store’s title, its products and its design is subtle yet distinct.

With tea leaf farms in Japan, Sip Matcha was renamed the Japanese word “junbi” after copyright issues. “Junbi” translates to “preparation,” which connects to their emphasis on the groundwork behind serving customers, including their extensive preparation of the matcha leaves and powder. It also connects to their slogan “prepare daringly.”

Despite the emphasis on preparation, there were two minor issues with the product. There was slightly less boba compared to the large amount of tea received, and there was only one size option for drinks. It would be better if there were at least two size options for those who do not want the rather large default size.

Although the store has some minimal issues, it manages to strike a balance between commercial boba trends and creating a more culturally aware, contextualized experience. Its bright, nature-themed decorations complement the earthy matcha flavor and provide customers with a comfortable, creative space to take a sip.

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Olivia Bridgnell
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