Another cheaper – in fact, the cheapest – matcha from Ippodo, a good matcha to wake up, like a shot of espresso – and the absolute counterpoint to a matcha of high quality.
One cannot always drink expensive matcha. Sometimes, hopefully, one will want something other than sweet, umami-rich aroma.
For a low price and a very different aroma, Aoyama-no-shiro from Ippodo is an interesting choice.
The Roughness of Cheap Matcha
I have regularly preferred this matcha to others recently, when I had not slept too well and wanted some intense bitter aroma as a wake-me-up.
The Aoyama-no-shiro shows the roughness of a cheap quality of matcha; it gives a certain smoky note, only an aftertaste of sweetness, but mainly an intense, pretty bitter green tea flavor.
Like a shot of espresso, it wakes one up pretty well and makes itself get noticed.
A matcha of high(er) quality would have considerably more sweetness and umami, and thus a rounder, more elegant, taste. Aoyama-no-shiro is not this gentleman and master, it’s the rash mercenary with fighting spirit. Also interesting qualities, just for different occasions.
Lessons for Beginning with Matcha
What there is to learn from it:
One can get used to a bitter matcha and find good sides in that.
A beginner in all things matcha should be careful, though. If you think that a cheaper matcha would be better for trying, as long as you don’t know whether you’d like matcha at all and therefore can’t justify the cost of an expensive one… Well, you are thinking right.
But trying a cheap matcha first is hardly recommended, or chances are you will start out with a matcha that is so special – and so bitter – in flavor, you are unlikely to appreciate it.
Frankly, this is one of the reasons why I prefer, when in doubt, the matcha of Marukyu Koyamaen. I find that even the cheap matcha in their range is less astringent-bitter than the cheap matcha from Ippodo I have now tried.
For someone who knows matcha, though, the contrast is very interesting. And a matcha like Aoyama-no-shiro does have its raison d’etre. Sometimes, one just needs a strong bitter cup of tea to get ready for a hard day.