All About Japan

Matcha-Covered Strawberries

| Sweets , Kyoto

A cup of tea, a piece of fruit, or a bit of chocolate can all make for a delicious and relaxing moment—and this new Kyoto confectionery lets you enjoy all three in a single bite.

Japanese tea company Itohkyuemon was founded in 1832, when Japan was still ruled by a shogun and closed to the outside world. Add in the fact that the company is based in Uji, the city in Kyoto Prefecture widely considered to grow the finest matcha green tea in Japan, and you might assume that the company is rigidly traditional.

In fact, though, Itohkyuemon has shown a consistent willingness to try new things as it gets closer to its 200th birthday. The company sells a number of tea-based confectioneries, and its newest treat looks to be particularly decadent.

Called Ochame (which literally means “tea strawberries”), the tempting dessert adds a couple of twists to the standard chocolate truffle. In the center of each morsel is a strawberry, covered in a coating of white chocolate mixed with matcha powder.

Being a tea merchant first and a confectioner second, Itohkyuemon is, of course, rather particular about the type of tea used. Or, more accurately, the types of tea used, as Ochame gets its vivid green color from a mixture of two varieties of stone-milled green tea: okoicha (right), a particularly dark and flavorful strain, and the milder jousucha (left).

Ochame was expressly designed as a special Valentine’s Day indulgence, which means it’s likely to be available only until the romantic holiday. Itohkyuemon’s three Kyoto branches will begin selling Ochame in-store on February 1, 2016, but it can also be ordered right now from the company’s online site here, priced at ¥1,296 (US$11) for a 70-gram (2.5-oz) container.

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