Motto is the world's first cold, bottled matcha, a drink made from ground green tea leaves that provides greater health benefits than steeped tea, and the beverage's early beginnings have roots right here in Milton.
Tom Olcott and Henry Crosby work from a Milton home as they distribute their sparkling matcha drink to the Boston area and beyond. The Verto Company, which is just the two friends, released Motto, their first beverage, in Boston and Nantucket last summer.
Motto is available now at the Fruit Center (Milton and Hingham) and Good Health (Quincy and Hanover) as well as several Boston retailers. The drink is distributed throughout New England as well as in mid-atlantic Whole Foods stores. Locally, Whole Foods may pick up Motto soon.
Matcha is a brilliant green powder made by stone-grinding green tea leaves. It's typically wisked into hot water and consumed. Motto takes the traditional tea to a new level with a few added ingredients and a lower temperature.
Crosby, who is from Virginia, and Olcott, who hails from western Massachusetts, don't have backgrounds in the beverage industry, or even food. Crosby worked in construction and attended law school, while Olcott has experience in architecture and photography.
A chance discovery in 2010 set the pair on a new career path.
Olcott was drinking matcha in the traditional preparation until one hot Nantucket day he tried the drink chilled. He added some sparkling water, lemons and apple cider vinegar the next day to enhance the flavor.
Olcott told his friend about the discovery and the idea of a cold matcha was born.
The following months were filled with lots of tea drinking and workshopping different ideas.
"We started from a healthy perspective," Olcott said. "We wanted to end at a place that was unique."
Experiments with wheat grass and spinach puree, while healthy, didn't inspire the budding beverage creators.
Crosby and Olcott ended up with a sparkling beverage with matcha, apple cider vinegar, honey, organic agave and fresh lemon juice; flavors very close to their original test.
"Once we decided on the flavor we liked there was a lot of honing," Crosby said.
While Motto is in more stores everyday and the response has been very encouraging, Olcott said he feels they are still in the very early stages of their business.
"We're learning what it takes to start something from nothing," said Olcott.
For now, that means working on distribution routes, meeting with potential carriers and pouring lots of Motto. Giving samples at stores and appearing at trade shows, like the recent New England Food Show, have helped build momentum for the new brand.
Olcott and Crosby hope to expand their distribution to California soon and the rest of the country by the end of the year.
"We think it's a national brand and a national product," Crosby said of Motto.
To learn more about Motto or to find a local carrier, visit drinkmotto.com.
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