Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea Powder

The powers that be at Trader Joe's are all about price. I have a couple of friends who supply items for the chain, and they will attest that the entire operation can be summarized in two words: Price Squeeze.

So when something's expensive at TJ's, you need to take note. Like for instance the Matcha Green Tea Powder, which looks like this:
and not like this:
or like this:
and definitely not like this:
What's matcha? I don't know, exactly. I know something about Chinese tea and pu-ehr, but am pretty ignorant on the Japanese stuff. I could gargle out a few semi-correct facts, but let's view it empirically:

You know the cheap plastic bottles of green tea water sold in Asian markets? You can do better, flavor-wise.
Also: death-wise, considering the arsenic or lead (or both) found in cheap green tea products (it may help to filter).
When it comes to instant green iced tea, the good stuff is Japanese matcha (or sencha, which I know even less about), which also presents less lead and arsenic risk. There's a hierarchy of matcha quality, and I'm told Trader Joe's stuff is way up the curve. It would be graded "ceremonial".

That's good. Ceremonial matcha is usually pricey (I used to up-pay for the hard-to-find one from YamaMotoYama). Yet this is not. Because it's Trader Joe's, and they squeeze their suppliers. That said, it's still really expensive for Trader Joe's, which is why they've pulled out every trick to mask the expense.

The substantial-looking box contains 7 tiny individual portions the size of kiddy ice cream cup sticks. And the portion packets are like 5% full. The big tell is the box's weight, a ludicrous .37 ounces (a price sticker would bring it up to .38 oz). And there are just seven wee packets per $7 box.

For a household of two, rationing one matcha/person/day, you'd need to budget a steep $56/month...just to step up from crappy supermarket green tea (which TJ's used to sell, too, btw). It's a hell of huge quality step-up, but it's risky to count on customers to recognize this. So Trader Joe's is taking a big chance, but not without reason. This stuff's great.

It doesn't instantly dissolve; you need to work at it. I add it to water in a weightlifter's protein shake shakey cup (with built in spikey agitator), which seals tightly and lets me really froth up the contents (this one looks good to me). And I wouldn't do it any other way, because you want an aerated, bubbly, lavish result. Oh, and I woulnd't add this stuff for smoothies, it's too fine for that.

I'm very sensitive to caffeine, and while I can handle a single shot of coffee (which I murder with milk), matcha, like all green tea, treats me more gently. One single portion of matcha seems to be my Goldilocks result.


hidetaka miyazaki said...

how come i dont see you posting alot on jaapnese food

Jim Leff said...

My smartphone app has 3 Japanese food sections!


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