First, let me go on record by saying: “I am not against flavored tea!”
As a well-versed/rehearsed Earl Grey drinker, I can’t say I’m above a little dash of something extra. Some of the best teas I’ve tried have fallen under the “flavor”-ful moniker. Granted, I’m more prone to traditional(-ish?) approaches to scenting teas rather than the addition of gobs of extract. (And if it’s aged in an alcohol barrel, I’m all over that shit.) However, there is one recent abomination that I have to draw the line on.
I noticed the trend back in the fervor of my reviewing days. It seemed like something that would be a passing gimmick. The first I ever ran across was a strawberry-flavored matcha. It was…vaguely strawberry-ish, and even possessed strawberry seeds in the powder. Did I prefer it to regular matcha…oh heck, no. The second one I tried was a blueberry matcha, and it had no flavor at all.
But it got worse.
In the ensuing year, other flavors began cropping up. Caramel, banana, lavender, cheesecake (!!!), chocolate, vanilla derp-dee-derp and…maple syrup?! That was the final straw. Maple syrup-flavored anything is a gateway drug – one that leads to bacon. Yes, folks, you heard this prediction here first. We are a mere flavor agent away from having a bacon matcha!!!
Granted, to some of you, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing…but ask yourself this: Do you really want green tea with your bacon?
That is my limit. I can’t take it anymore. Matcha is a ceremonial beverage, one that induces a feeling of calm when it’s prepared. It doesn’t necessarily have to be prepared correctly – just to the drinker’s liking. As long as it is still matcha, then I have no qualm. But I’m putting my snobby foot down at flavoring the damn thing.
Tea leaves are universally known for being able to pick up flavor from either (a) the surrounding environment or (b) surrounding ingredients. Rose-scenting, jasmine-scenting, osthmanthus-scenting, masala-ladening – these are all very common and ancient practices. But have you heard someone say, “Do you know what this powdered green tea needs? Cheese. It needs cheese.” The closest thing we have to natural dairy tea is milk oolong, and it should bloody well stay that way!
I’m willing to give a pass on the existence of matcha blends, though. Case in point: Green tea powder blended with goji berry or acai. Those fruits can best be had in powdered form, anyway. Even better? Matcha blended with actual useful herbs like Gymnema sylvestre (the “sugar-destroyer” herb) or lemongrass. Those work! I’ve had ‘em.
In the end, I guess I just want one thing that’s left untouched. One thing that is still sacred and sucrose-less. If I have to, I’ll horde the good stuff to make sure that it remains pure. Because some powders are worth saving.
Fuck flavored matcha.
I fully agree.
I do not want my strawberry, chocolate, bacon, maple syrup or anything else polluted with matcha.
Vice-versa, the only thing matcha should be flavoring is ice cream an mochi cakes.
Ha ha @thedevotea – couldn’t agree more!
Not a matcha fan either, eh?
I’m a tea purist: unflavored teas only.
If people like flavored teas, I’m ok with that, it’s their choice. But as you just pointed out, sometimes the flavoring is carried too far.
I guess I’m just a purist regarding ceremonial powdered green tea. It should be left to its own devices.
I’ve tried caramel matcha and I wasn’t impressed at all! I much prefer the regular non flavored matcha. The end. Thank you for posting this!
I’ve been curious about whether or not it’s any good.
Another tea I don’t like flavored is Puer. I’m not a Puer fan at all, @peter is. But adding mango/peach to Puer seems incredibly wrong to me. Like there’s a lack of understanding what this tea is all about.
I’ve been hit-or-miss with pu-erh blends. I’ve had a couple of weird blends that worked. Rishi’s Vanilla Mint Pu-erh and Numi’s Chocolate Pu-erh. Both are exquisite – no clue why. Chocolate and pu-erh just…go together.
On the other hand, I’ve had loose cooked pu-erh blended with chrysanthemums. Never again.
I saw the title for this article and read it as “F**K-flavoured Matcha.” Was very morbidly curious about what I thought I was about to read and then was (morbidly, I guess) disappointed. But also relieved. Also relieved.
And I strongly agree that the world should say, “Fuck flavoured Matcha!” to matcha of all flavours, fuck or otherwise.
That misnomer hadn’t occurred to me. And now it has me wondering what fuck-flavored matcha would even taste like. Wait…I don’t think I wanna know.
And I agree with your sentiment…with the exception of matcha-flavored matcha. That can stay.
Good catch. Matcha flavoured matcha is wonderful. It should remain as is.
So glad a consensus was reached. 🙂
Should I add it to my “to do list”?
No-no-NO. A thousand times, no.
It comes from the heart.
“Fuck Flavoured matcha?
how very creative of you.
Maybe if you jerk off into a Chawan, and whisk it in with your Usucha, you might get your wish smile
I am sure you’d do that if you find your Matcha not umami enough?
I have no problems with flavoured Matcha, and it does not deter away from its spirit and sensibility, the Japanese themselves have to include a sweet snack, a wagashi, because of its bitterness, and that alone shows they are open to altering the matcha’s flavour profile.
The sentiment of the Japanese tea ceremony may overlap with the choice of matcha, but in no way has it ever dominated the way matcha should and must be… if you are such a Litera-tea-ist, maybe you have forgotten that the origin of Matcha lies in China’s historical Tang Dynasty, and the Japanese merely borrowed and adapted a method of preparing a beverage. It is in tea’s nature as a product to be versatile, and to coexist with other flavours, picking up the different terroirs of the soil it is cultivated upon , and thus giving the so-called ‘pure’ teas their unique flavours .
It is meant to be adapted and transformed to fit with its user and changing times and climes, that is the forgiving, versatile and compassionate nature of Tea, if you know anything about the origin of the ‘Iron Goddess of Mercy Tea/ TieGuanYin”, you would not have written this post.
Furthermore, if you are aware of the cultural politics in Japan right now, where the younger Japanese are seeking to interpret their own culture in a post-modern setting, these flavoured matcha comes at a right time to invigorate a staid old custom; to offer a parallel comparison, in the realm of art and the politics of the museum, matcha is being returned to the populace at large and no longer monopolized or held hostage by the traditionalists… like art, instead of killing it by installing it in a museum as purists are wont to do, they are now being appropriated and individualized into the everyday and the economy is better for it.
I do tend to agree that some of the blends might not be done as well as they could, because alot of them used artificial flavours or the flavour ratio and matcha selection they used do not blend harmoniously… these people have no clue, thus, i reiterate, the problem with some of the flavoured blend is that it is done poorly or done wrong without the consideration of the base/foundational flavour notes of the matcha. BUT this does not mean the concept is flawed, or that there are no better blends out there.
So, why blame a concept when it is still in its formative stage now?
The Japanese did not just find the perfect way to making matcha neither, someone have to experiment and find a way that the innovator arbitrarily decides as best, and then he had to go around convincing everyone, or bullying everyone, that it is the proper and accurate way to do it… if you claim to know your matcha, you’d also know there are at least 3 main schools of japanese tea ceremony, and their modes of preparation do differ, and tastes different… so your concept of being a ‘purist’ is also a shaky proposition… especially when within their culture they are STILL fighting about it.
And in closing, i would note that Cheese, Bacon and Fuck are unfelicitous flavour notes on matcha, anyone can tell you that (but there is a delicious amuse-bouche of peso and cheese crustini that is lightly dusted with matcha and wasabi that my friends adore) the fact that you mentioned them either in a sarcastic tone, or an indignant-parody of a blending process that you know nothing about, shows us how unprepared you are in engaging the topic of matcha… And not belabouring a point, being a purist of other people’s culture shows a subtle but just as palpable sense of racial profiling — your aim at romanticizing another culture by deeming yourself a specially qualified connoisseur is both a sad reflection of the mindset of the north american cultural wasteland that you have chosen to perceive. If you could rein in your language and rhetorical boundaries on it being your own biased POV, IMHO, i think you post would offend less. But your language and word-choice seems to speak on such an issue with grand authority, i do think many find it abit overbearing, and it bullies the other matcha drinkers who might enjoy experimenting with new flavours. They might come to your notion of a ‘pure matcha’ and prefer that, but you do not need to socially condemn their choices if they choose to park a canister of matcha infused with different flavours next to their ‘purist approved’ matcha, don’t you think?
Furthermore, the meditative state that Matcha induces also allows for a moment of rectification; the ability to recall memories and deal with them; in that state, i have worked with strawberry flavoured matcha, blueberry flavoured matcha, caramel flavoured matcha maple flavoured matcha, and the meditative aspect of the matcha ceremony is greatly enhanced by the smell of these added flavourings in reaching a memory or transporting the drinker to a moment in their past… and dealing, meditating and reflecting on those moments… a perk that normal matcha cannot do…
So, by claiming to be a purist, you have also run afoul of the spirit of Cha-do; the idea of wabi-sabi that Rikkyu has stated is that, fundamentally, nothing stays the same, and Change is the order of nature and the universe… I am not saying matcha cannot stay unflavoured, i am merely saying the inability to be open-minded about new innovations with what matcha can do and can be expanded upon, and by demanding that matcha flavours remain the same old WITHOUT accepting new changes is self-contradictory.”
I urge you to rethink your position, and offer your comments in a more measured tone in the future, thank you.”
Hiya Societea, nice to meet’cha.
Or should I call you “Wayner Surfgod”. You must feel very passionate on this subject to want to post it THREE times under three different names (including mine), but we’ll let that pass. I respect passion. Heck, I’ve bandied my passionate opinion, why not let others? What I don’t appreciate, though, is misrepresentation.
I don’t claim to be a purist by any stretch. In fact, I didn’t even use the word “purist” once in the entire blog. (Seriously, I hit CTRL F just to double-check, no “purist”.) Nor am I an expert by any stretch; there’re no certifications attached to my opinion. It’s just that – an opinion. I stated at the top of the blog that I wasn’t against flavored teas, AND that some of my favorites were flavored. I count a cheesecake-flavored green tea among ’em. Cheese. Cake. So, I have no purism points at all.
This was merely my opinion. Matcha and chemical flavoring components (natural or not) don’t work. At least, not for me. And apparently, not for many others, either – as indicated by the other comments.
That said, I gave a total and complete exemption to blending with matcha – further supporting my acceptance for “change”. I just draw the line at flavoring it. A simple stance, and not one worth getting worked up over.
Have a splendid day.
About the “younger Japanese are seeking to interpret their own culture in a post-modern setting, these flavoured matcha comes at a right time to invigorate a staid old custom” part,
I haven’t seen any flavored matcha in the Japanese market, but I could be wrong.
Could you give me an example of a flavored matcha intended for the Japanese consumer?
Speaking of a more measured tone, that “jerk off into a chawan” part at the start was really endearing you to that “respectful tone” thing.
Man, how long did that comment take to write?
@happygaiwan – I’m guessing all night. It’s genius. I want it on a t-shirt.
Your post clearly touched someone very deeply. and inspired that extremely detailed reply. Proud of ya Lazy.
It was bound to happen at some point. I was rather emphatic in this one.
I’m a few months late, but I just found this post.
Flavored matcha is not for everyone and I do not expect for everyone to like it, but you may want to know that most of our customers (70%) buy flavored matcha. It works best when mixed with milk and ice and not the traditional way.
Also, cheesecake flavor matcha is actually #2 seller, right after caramel. If there were no demand for it, we would stop selling it a long time ago.
Telling people that flavored matcha is too much? Where would we be without trying new things? Still living in a cave.
What’s next? Let’s criticize people for using sugar in their tea?
The world is changing. Not everyone enjoys the natural flavor of green tea. Why not give them a chance to get all the health benefits of matcha without the flavor they do not like. I could understand if you were against using artificial flavors, but all our flavors are natural, so where is the harm? Surely, having people drink more matcha can not be this bad, even if it’s a flavors matcha.
Also, on a separate note, I like your idea for bacon flavored matcha. I will look into making one.
How does it feel to know that you are now solely responsible for creating a new flavored matcha?
Hiya, Robert. Thanks for commenting.
As with anything on this blog, it’s mostly played for humor. Yes, I do think – personally – that flavored matcha is a traves-“tea”. But…I will also acknowledge that people do like them. There are people who also like genmaicha, and I hate the stuff. At the end of the day, it’s up to personal preference. Mine just leans toward the traditional in regards to matcha.
That said, I’m not against the blending of matcha. I’ve actually tried three of your blends, as well as the white matcha and black matcha. Liked ’em all. So, I guess I’m not THAT much of a traditionalist.
As to the bacon matcha? I’ll use the “donkey show” analogy. I’ll look at anything once. As to the creation of said blend? My conscience is clean.
Keep up the works.