Matcha Love ~ Itoen

A while back I wrote about my fondness for canned green tea. Yesterday I discovered a new species that can be got State-side. Itoen, better known for their bottled green and oolong teas both in Japan and the West has recently expanded into the “iced green tea shot” market. I don’t yet know all the varieties they will be wholesaling in the 5oz/155ml size, but I’m now familiar with two. Matcha Love green tea Sweetened and Unsweetened.  The idea of putting matcha into a green tea shot is really quite brilliant and I hope it works well for them.

Since I don’t go in for sweetened tea (I can’t imagine that would do well in Japan) I opted for the unsweetened variety. In palate, it tastes nearly identical to a medium-fine iced sencha (ie. their popular bottled tea) except there is a trace amount of matcha to heighten the experience… and the caffeine. Although I’m not sure I’d place it near the top of my choice matchas, I do think it’s an excellent tea that’s wonderful to have iced. The can itself is actually really cute with a white mountain pattern background with black and green lettering and a cute m-shaped heart to represent the word matcha.

There is one thing that gives me pause though. Selling a tea as refined and prototypically “Japanese” as matcha (most often seen in Tea Ceremony) as an iced tea in a can in the United States… As an ethnographer, I feel conflicted.  One of the things that makes Japanese culture so lovely is its inviolability and aversion to assimilation. How then should we interpret this sort of export (eg. almost as inwardly pedantic as a Hatsune Miku or Murakami Takashi) without seeing it in some way as selling out?

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