Even “cheap” matcha comes in different qualities, becomes more or less noticeable… and Yugen matcha from Marukyu Koyamaen is a great example.
Yugen matcha is in the lower range of Marukyu Koyamaen’s offerings, among the matcha not recommended for use as koicha, only as usucha.
As such a “thin” tea, though, it still shares a certain disappearing quality with high-grade matcha; its flavor is there but fleeting, unobtrusive.
What makes it a cheaper matcha is that there is little umami and sweetness, a lack – at least in depth – of flavor. It is not round and complex an aroma, it is just there.
At the same time, Yugen has the typical flavor of matcha, without the astringent bitterness of some other cheap matcha I have tried.
Those matcha (like the Aoyama-no-shiro from Ippodo Tea Co.) are good for people who like their aromas stronger, are used to (or even fond of) the bitterness, and feel in need of a pick-me-up that is intense like a shot of espresso.
Yugen matcha sounds, when I describe it mainly by the qualities it lacks, as if it were a bad choice, but it is a great choice for daily drinking.
It is, in that regard, like the Starbucks latte you get out of habit, because you like to drink it, want to have it, and don’t want anything that will distract you.
It is neither so strong in flavor that it will command your attention, nor so special in aroma (and high in price) that it demands attention.
Yugen just makes a nice bowl of matcha for someone who likes to start their day with that. There’s a reason I bought such a big tin of this type ;)