Do you know why Japanese people love green tea so much? Or why Japanese matcha is used in so many products in Japan? Did you know it’s an essential part of Japanese religious culture?
This article will explain more about the Japanese history with tea and why it is so prevalent in Japan! And if you’re looking for the best, most delicious matcha-flavoured snacks, then read on! Matcha snacks are a great way to connect with Japanese culture and a perfect gift to give to friends and family if you are planning to take a trip home over the holidays.
What is Matcha? And Why Do Japanese People Love it So Much!
To understand matcha, we first need to know the historical relation between green tea and Japan.
Green tea comes from the plant Camellia Sinensis. According to history, it was first discovered in China by the Chinese emperor. When he was boiling water, some leaves fell in the water, leaving a pleasant aroma. Curious, the emperor tasted the liquid, and since then, tea started to be introduced in China. However, it was only around the 9th century that we began to see tea in Japanese history. 2 Buddhist priests came from China, bringing with them tea seeds. Although, it was only when the monks who served the Japanese emperor started to prepare the drink in their cuisine that the tea began to be popularized. After the Japanese emperor tried the tea, he decided to expand the productions of tea inside of Japan.
Even after all, the history of matcha was just about to start. Matcha was first introduced inside the main religion Buddhism. Thanks to monks who discovered the possibility of thin and refined tea that China sold the drink in blocks. With the propagation of tea through religion, matcha started to be popular within Japanese society. Besides that, further knowledge about the benefits of the Matcha was being studied and released, making them accessible within the culture. Furthermore, matcha became famous in history, thus creating the popular “ tea ceremony” that involves much more than traditions. The majority of the ideas building around the tea in Japan is in the spirit and religious background.
Today the benefits of matcha are known worldwide. The use of matcha has become healthy benefits than an idea outside; however, in Japan, Matcha still has a significant impact on society, mentally and religiously.
The Best Japanese Matcha Snacks to Try!
After all this history, we now can understand why in Japan they love matcha. As a result, Japanese culture has created a variety of products to consume matcha besides drinking.
1. Meiji Matcha Chocolate
Meiji makes various matcha flavour chocolates. The Meiji Rich Matcha Chocolate is green chocolate with a strong taste of matcha. Meltykiss chocolates are little cubes of matcha flavoured chocolate. There is also the matcha-flavoured limited edition Macadamia Chocolate. A recent release, “THE chocolate” collections, is more refined chocolate with a matcha flavour.
Meiji Holdings is a well known multinational company created in Japan in 1916. In the beginning, the company name was Tokyo Confectionery. Still, after 1924 they changed the name for Meiji Seika Kaisha, Ltd. Their first product was caramels biscuits. Since then, the company has grown to many other food departments, like milk, yoghurts, ice cream, whey protein, and baby food. Besides that, they also expanded in the area of the Pharmaceutical market, with many significant developments of remedies and vaccines.
2. Pocky Matcha
Pocky is a collection of chocolates with matcha flavour and a thin stick covered with chocolate. Pocky curiously has this name due to the sound that it makes when you eat the chocolate. First sold in 1996, Pocky is well known in Asia countries; however, outside of Europe or western countries, Pocky is known as “Mikado”. It is the same product but in a different name and packing. Pocky has many flavours variations, like strawberry, banana, cookies, coconuts. Pocky is a product by Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd that curiously is one of the main reasons many tourists go to take pictures in Osaka. They take pictures at the big LED sign in Dotonbori Street that was first created to celebrate the World Cup! Next time you go to Osaka do not forget to bring a camera and take a picture in front of this famous tourist point!
3. Oreo Matcha
Oreo is a famous cookie brand from the United States that started its first sales in 1912, two chocolate cookies and one creme mainly make the wafer in the middle. Still, in Japan, the Oreo industry has created a unique flavour, the matcha cookie. Instead of using the white creme in the middle for this cookie, they changed it for matcha creme flavour, making it a huge success in Japan!
Oreo is a worldwide brand, with more than one hundred companies scattered around the world; actually, they are the best selling cookies in the world. Another curiosity about the cookies is that they are vegan, so good news for vegans!
Another interesting fact about Oreo is the name; actually, it has many theories of why the name of the cookie is Oreo, but one of them is because the letter “O” would mean the name of the cookie and “re” the creme filling, so because it is cookie + creme + cookie = Oreo! Besides that, they have a specific cookie and creme ratio that they use in each cookie, which is 71% of a wafer and 29% of creme.
Oreo Matcha is a delicious cookie; next time you come to Japan or go to the supermarket, do not forget to get yours!
4. Ice Cream Matcha (MOW)
Mow ice cream is the most delicious and affordable ice cream that I have ever tried!. This specific ice cream is matcha flavour; when you try the ice cream, you can taste the matcha flavour, which is strong but at the same time is creamy and sweet!. Mow Ice Cream comes in very different flavours, is easily found in any supermarket; the price is from 130 yen and upwards, but it is worth it!
Mow is from Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd; it was created in 1917, completing 100 years in 2017! This industry was first established to produce dairy products. So many of their products are in the range of milk, creaming powder, cheese, yoghurts, and more. This brand is well known to create affordable, high-quality products, such as the “Mow” ice cream collection and another ice cream that you should try is “Parm”, both of which has been a massive success in Japan.
Next time you go to a supermarket or come to Japan, do not forget to buy this ice cream, it is excellent and quite accessible!
5. Kit Kat Matcha
KitKat is already well known in Japan for producing many different and exotic flavours of chocolate; as a result, many tourists have the curiosity to try this delicious chocolate! Of course, that Matcha could not be forgotten! KitKat is from Nestle industry created in 1866, but it only started to be sold in Japan in 1973. Nestlé is a famous multinational company, and the KitKat bars are produced in more than ten countries.
One interesting fact about the Matcha KitKat is the recipe; Japan Nestlé already affirmed that the Matcha KitKat has three different main methods around the country! Amazing right?
They change depending on the location of the sales, for example, if it is for airports stores that are more bitter, but if they are sold in supermarkets they are sweeter! Interesting right? I was so surprised about that!
So next time you are here in Japan, do not forget to try all the KitKat matcha flavours only made in Japan!
6. Calbee Matcha
Calbee is known in Japan as the chips industry. However, in the last years, they created the Calbee Matcha Chips. The taste is a mixture of sweet with savoury at the same time, is an exciting mixture. It was a success for the Japanese people, and a new, different taste for the tourist to try, definitely you should try to taste one of these.
Calbee is a famous brand in Japan; they are known in the food industry, with many creative snacks; this company was created in 1949 and is still a big success nowadays. Today they still make large sales inside and abroad in the country. The majority of the products from Calbee are sold in supermarkets and drugstores, but besides that, the company has created many stores around Tokyo, called Calbee Plus. Calbee Plus is a chips shop where you can create different flavours for your chips! The price range of these products goes from 500 yen or less. They also have their specific snack flavour in each store, so if you do not know what you want to choose, you can go and discover the many different tastes! It is an experience that I would recommend you to have while you are in Japan! Next time you see Calbee Plus on the street, do not forget to go there and make an incredible invention!
Japanese People Love Matcha Products
As we were able to see, Japan love Matcha!
This happens because of their tradition and culture, so it is fascinating to understand their history. Japanese people have unique customs. As a result, they create beautiful traditions such as the “tea ceremony”. Foreigners who live in Japan or want to come to Japan do not appreciate this rich culture!.
Once you come to Japan, you will see that matcha is not the only Japanese snack, but there are many other products that if I tried to put it all in this article, it would never finish! So once you get to Japan, try the various Matcha products that this country offers, and create this new experience for yourself!
The Matcha is one good example of the result of their culture. Until today, matcha has had a considerable influence on the Japanese culture, and as a result, we have many products being created! So next time you find those products, do not forget to try and appreciate this fantastic country that Japan is!
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This article was originally published on January 26, 2019 and edited and reposted on November 25, 2021.