Mondays are for matcha, right? Well, and the rest of the week. Naoki Matcha saw how in 2015, matcha experienced a popularity boom. Being highly unregulated, ceremonial or culinary standard became blurred in some companies. Naoki sought to fix that by offering a versatile and cost-effective matcha series that allowed the consumer enjoy matcha in traditional and non-traditional ways while sharing the knowledge they have accumulated so far. Another difference is the way that they source their matcha, working with a network of tea estates instead of just a few single ones. This allows them to change based on feedback from consumers. They sent me their Fragrant Yame Matcha, here are my thoughts:
Fragrant Yame Matcha: I could drink this matcha, bowl by bowl and not get tired of it. It just spoke on a bit of a different level to me. The color of the matcha was a brilliant and vivid green. As I made the matcha, I would get small whiffs of the mild aroma. I could detect one overarching note of sweet, freshly cut grass. The taste though, is what impressed me the most. The matcha was quite mellow and calming and had a bit of a creaminess to it. The vegetal “bite” that I am used to in matcha was not evident and instead, my taste buds were embraced by natural grassy sweetness and slight floral notes. Instantly, I had my mom try this matcha because she dislikes vegetal elements of green tea but is fine if it is milder. To my surprise, she was able to drink the tea and enjoyed it.
My preparation of this matcha was quite typical of my normal routine, first measuring out the matcha powder and creating a thicker (Koicha-like) consistency. This helps me smooth out any lumps without using a sifter and looks absolutely beautiful. Then I add more water and prepare the matcha as Usucha (“thin tea” or a more traditional matcha form). Doing this small step process allows the water to slightly cool (even though it is at 175⁰F) and makes for an even blend.
I really liked that in their collaboration proposal, they sent two documents. One explained a bit of background about their company, and the other explained different ways to explore the matcha and how to discover your own way of enjoying it. It included some challenges of ways you can discover, refine, and then dig in deeper with matcha. I was extremely impressed at the amount of care that they had put into creating that document and sharing that resource with other people. They have a lot of articles on matcha preparation on their website as well, and I plan on eventually reading them to try and gain more knowledge. One article that might be helpful if you are new to matcha is their “What Does Matcha Taste Like” one, where they also describe the difference between tasting notes of good and bad matcha.
Price: This Fragrant Yame Matcha is $25.99 for 40 grams of matcha and can be bought on their website or on Amazon (which might be good if you have Amazon Prime). I would consider paying this price in a heartbeat.
Packaging: The matcha came in a tin container and also had a protective bag layer. These two layers helped protect the matcha and kept it fresh. I was a bit nervous after opening it, to keep it in my fridge (but I have no choice but to). It kept incredibly well and tasted the same the next time I tried it, as the first time.
Sourcing: I do not see it explicitly spoken on their website, but this matcha comes from a small tea estate in Yame that actually specializes in Gyokuro. Only recently starting matcha production, it has become increasingly popular and has won awards at a national tea competition.
I think this might go without saying, but I was thoroughly impressed by the care that Naoki had for matcha and their consumers experience. The amount of resourced available and versatile blends all create for a more knowledgeable consumer which can only help them with their matcha product choosing. What are your thoughts on matcha? Love it? Hate it? Let me know! Happy Brewing!