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Chiki Tea

Chiki Tea is a Japanese green tea cafe and online retailer specialising in premium grade matcha and loose-leaf teas, shipping worldwide from Japan. Founder Holly Helt went on an IconicShift mentoring programme to turn an idea into a global business.

Bringing the enchantment of Japanese tea to people around the world

Chiki Tea started as an idea and a PowerPoint presentation. Coffee culture is on the rise, but many people who enjoy the experience are actually looking for a healthier alternative. Holly Helt was convinced green tea was a great solution, but most of what arrived in the western world was lower quality and not prepared properly. 

A second problem was that this was an industry in trouble in Japan - only one per cent of Japanese tea is exported, but its western looking youngsters want to drink coffee in a modern environment - they don't want to drink 'Granny's brew'.

Taking Japanese tea to the Japanese

Holly started on the IconicShift mentoring programme in December 2012, Chiki Tea was founded in May 2012 and the company moved to Japan in May 2013.

"IconicShift helped to move Chiki Tea from a PowerPoint to a reality - I was out of my depth when I first started, I just had the idea and the passion. I used IconicShift to gain clarity and direction - and that was just priceless."

Chiki Tea opened its first café in Nakatsu - taking Japanese tea to the Japanese and giving them a western cafe experience, but with green tea. This first café was proof of concept and a 'safe' place to experiment.

Global expansion

With an image built, fanbase created, customer data collected and with the support of the Japanese government, Chiki Tea closed its first café to raise funds for a new larger café in nearby Kitakyushu. 

Chiki Tea plan to use the new café as a springboard to expand across Japan and in five years move the concept to the UK and US.

"It was exhilarating to be on IconicShift. IconicShift gives you clarity, which leads to confidence, which gives you influence because people listen to you. A lot of entrepreneurs also don't realise the emotional challenge - it's incredibly challenging and the tools from IconicShift really helps us as a team.

"Had it not been for IconicShift I absolutely would not be CEO of Chiki Tea, it's as simple as that. The tools are very easy to implement - the roadmap, the architecture, the perfect pitch - are all so clear and easy to understand. Anyone who is embarking on a new adventure, a 100-year game plan needs these tools."