Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Matcha Snack Round-Up

This is a Matcha...Snack...Round U-U-U-UP!

First off, I've got a couple of drinks from OyatsuCafe's illustrious Stick Menu, this time the two matcha lattes to follow my earlier review of the hot chocolate.

And hey, what better to go with matcha lattes than matcha biscuits? Ergo, Matcha...Snack...Round U-U-U-UP!

My husband so graciously lent his palette to test these with me, and we decided we'd try them cold. The instructions to prepare these as cold drinks are a bit strange - you add a very small amount of water (80ml) and 4-5 ice cubes, which will promptly kinda melt in the boiling water and give you the rest of your liquid. It makes sense, of course, but it just seemed strange considering that there are drink powders out there in the world that you mix with cold milk or water. Nesquik, Crystal Light, et cetera...but hey, it worked - we got cold & decently sized drinks, even though I was a bit apprehensive.

The powders looked exactly the same, which is kind of what I assumed was going to happen. One looks a bit darker just because of the lighting - believe me, they're exactly the same.

So, I boiled 80ml of water and added 5 ice cubes to each.

This is the Blendy,

and this is the Maxim. Not much of a difference, but while I was mixing them I did notice that the Maxim seemed just a little bit frothier.

Unfortunately, the smell of these wasn't too pleasant - they kind of smelled like cat food. Tuna, to be specific. I was surprised, because I usually really like green tea and matcha lattes - iced or warm. I've had quite a few, and never have they had a 'fishy' smell like the two of these did.

Now, the taste was as expected - milky, a bit sweet, and just a touch grassy. I was perfectly happy with the flavor, but the smell was a bit overpowering and kind of took away from the whole drink. They both smelled a bit, too - so I assume it wasn't an issue of being out-of-date, I think the instant matcha lattes just might have a bit of a stink. Which really stinks, because they taste just fine!

I did a spot of research on this, as I was really taken aback because I like green tea and matcha lattes quite a bit and never smelled fish - turns out cheaper matcha can occasionally taste bitter or fishy - and even more interesting than that, if you use water that is too hot, it can ruin the taste a bit. So, I think there's a chance that the instructions in Japanese say 'hot, not boiling water', and I just used my kettle and basically boiling water. Interesting! I would've liked to experiment a bit more, but both packets are gone.

They had barely any difference in taste, so I'd suggest just going with the cheaper one (Blendy) and perhaps not using boiling water. Maybe it is also a bit nicer warm? The only thing that was off was the smell, really - it tasted quite nice still. I would say the smell is a bit of deal breaker for me though - and it could've been my own fault that it went that way (too hot of water) but I'm not sure I would try it again. Now, I would be tempted by these, as they require no heating whatsoever - couldn't mess that up!

 Now, onto the crispity, crunchity biscuit portion of the Matcha Round U-U-U-UP!

I've got two sets of matcha biscuits here, Alfort Matcha Biscuits & Petit Choco Chip Matcha Cookies, and they're both made by Bourbon. The Alfort brand is the more premium brand, while the Petit line is more budget friendly. I seem to recollect seeing tons of these in Japan for something like 100 yen. Suppose it would be like a Custard Cream versus a Viennese Melt, both made by Fox's. It's cool to see that in action elsewhere.

The Alfort biscuits are topped with matcha chocolate and have a cool ship printed on top, while the petits are just cute, tiny versions of chocolate chip cookies (but green) - complete with a bit more color at the edges, like they've been home baked! Very cute.

That's the thing that will really stick out about these biscuits - they are teeny tiny. Take a look at this comparison shot in my mitt:

I'm no good at basketball because I can barely palm a ball (and, of course, poor hand eye coordination, lack of height, asthma, general absence of athleticism & very little competitive spirit) so it isn't like I've got big monster hands. These are just tiny li'l cookies.

They were incredibly tasty, though! The Alfort particularly had high quality matcha chocolate topping, and a oat-y sort of not-too-sweet biscuit base. Reminded me of a digestive, but with green tea flavored chocolate rather than milk chocolate - and also absolutely bitsy and adorable. The only problem with them being so small is that it is quite difficult to dunk them in anything, but it can be done...just carefully. The matcha chocolate was sweet, creamy, and tasted like green tea in that way that only chocolate green tea products do. If you have any love in your heart for matcha flavors or green tea, you'd love this.

The Petits were a bit more grassy and less sweet, but they had a very satisfying crunch and a buttery taste that only ever seems to be present in chocolate (or 'choco') chip cookies. The combination of matcha, plain chocolate, and butter was really nice, and a bit more exotic than the matcha chocolate covered variety. These were even harder to dunk though, since they're smaller and round, so I kept thinking how nice it would be to just dump the entire packet into a bowl and cover it in milk, like the World's Most Indulgent Cereal. Or as I like to call it, Cookie Soup: Patent Pending since I was 9 years old.

Which ones would I buy again? Quite hard to pick! I'd say that the Alfort were the nicer ones, the ones I'd be most likely to eat on a day-to-day basis, but the Petit have such a thick, buttery crunch that really reminded me of something from my childhood. Maybe I'd get Petit again in another flavor, as I feel that the green tea in those was a bit 'muskier' than I prefer - the Alfort had a nice, delicately grassy and sweet taste by contrast. So, Alfort for the Matcha, and Petit for some other time & some other flavor.
(OyatsuCafe so kindly provided me with some products for review, but all opinions are just my own!)

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