Lessons in Matcha 1: The Flavor Lesson of KitKat in Japan

Into food, flavors, aromas, sweet heat? You must have heard of the diversity of KitKat that Nestle produces for the Japanese market.

Their popularity and diversity tends to be quite the source of fascination to non-Japanese. After all, for “us”, KitKat are not exactly a Japanese thing – and somehow, they are.

Japanese KitKat

What I found particularly interesting with the KitKat I saw on my recent research tour through Japan? There was quite some diversity even when it came to KitKat with matcha flavor.

With matcha having become such a trend (if not being over as a trend), it is starting to look like matcha is everywhere and well-known an ingredient. Really, though, it just isn’t. And you can tell that even from the matcha-flavored KitKat you can find in Japan.

As you can hear in the video, I found and tried some other flavors, as well. Yes, there was still more, without matcha. I want to focus on that here, though, for the lesson I found interesting…

Matcha KitKat? Not Simply Matcha

Turned out, there is not only the Matcha KitKat that I already knew from Hong Kong.

The range of Matcha KitKat in Japan
The range of Matcha KitKat in Japan

‘Sweets for Adults’

That is actually only one of the “sweets for adults” made with Uji matcha. It has a noticeable green tea aroma, but behind a rather sweet flavor.

There is a second version of the same, but that is a koicha, i.e. the “thick,” much stronger, matcha. That is also what the bar tastes like: Still like matcha, but a stronger one.

‘Kyoto Edition’

In Kyoto, at the store of Itoh Kyuemon, a traditional producer of matcha, there was also a variety of KitKat made with a matcha from that producer.

Itoh Kyuemon Matcha KitKat, Kyoto Edition
Itoh Kyuemon Matcha KitKat, Kyoto Edition

This KitKat is, in my opinion, a bit too similar to the “normal” matcha bar, but perhaps has a bit of a less-sweet and more-round flavor.

That impression may be a result of my expecting good things from such a traditional brand, though…

Sakura Matcha and Moleson

At the airport KitKat store(s), which turned out to be the best sources of the various types, there was also a “Sakura Matcha”. In this KitKat, green tea combines with a cherry (blossom) flavor. This version is milder and sweeter, with a hint of something floral.

The Chocolatory and airport stores also have a Sublime bar with matcha. This looks like there are more tea leaves worked into it, and tastes strongly of matcha.

These stores also offer a Moleson matcha bar. It combines the Sublime bar with a topping of adzuki beans and yuzu (I think) in milk chocolate.

KitKat Chocolatory Moleson Matcha
KitKat Chocolatory Moleson Matcha

Inspired by the latter, there are mini “Everyday Luxury” bars in some supermarkets…

So. There is Matcha KitKat. But in four different uses and kinds of matcha. Plus another two combinations of matcha with additional flavors.

And that’s the thing.

Strong Aromas, Differences in ‘the Same’

Just as there is no chilli, if you want to put it as extreme as I did, there is no matcha. There are different kinds and different qualities.

In the KitKat, there already were differences. In sweets, it is all not as extreme, I’ll admit, but it’s a start. Thus, it was nice to see differences.

In the original use of matcha powder for true matcha to drink, the differences come out strong and are well-worth knowing more about. They make a world of difference there.

Given how strong and beloved (by me, loathed by others) the aroma is, I will explore it more, far though it takes us from the chilli.

Interested in the offer I mention in the video? It’s described here, in German. (You’ll still manage to understand, but would need to get in touch with me directly, if you are interested.)

One response

  1. […] As I was walking through Kyoto on my way back out to Tokyo, I got a few more matcha things at the Kyoto Station branch of Itoh Kyuemon. I knew to go there as they, not least, are the company that Nestle worked with for the Kyoto-specific (Itoh Kyuemon-)matcha KitKat. […]

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