One of the first English lessons I taught in Japan was about how to use words like “everywhere” and “nothing.” As part of the class, the students had to practice making sentences with “everyone,” and one woman stood up and gave hers, which was “Everyone likes pudding.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a truer statement. Pudding is universally popular. Even the very wealthy love it, which is why one company in Japan is now selling matcha green tea pudding made from such high-quality ingredients that it costs more than most meals that could precede the tasty dessert.
The standard flavor for pudding, or purin, as it’s called in Japan, is a sort of creamy custard flavor. There’re a number of popular variations, though, and with the continuing boom in green-tea-flavor sweets, we’re seeing more and more places selling matcha pudding.
In most cases, matcha pudding isn’t notably more expensive than other types. Japan has a rich tea culture, though, and there’re tea leaves several rungs up the quality (and price) ladder from the cheap tea bags sold in grocery stores. If you really need the best, you might want to look into the leaves from the Teragawa Daifukuen farm in Kyoto’s Uji City, whose tea leaves can cost as much as 10,000 yen (US $92) for 30 grams (1.1 ounces).
Teragawa Daifukuen’s Chiyo no Mukashi tea plays a starring role in Okoi, the ultra-premium matcha pudding being sold by Pudding Laboratory. A 120-gram jar of Okoi will set you back 5,400 yen ($50), but the company assures customers it delivers the flavor of the best tea in Japan.
That’s not the only thing that makes the pudding special, though. It’s also made with Rikyu no Mizu, water taken from its source in central Japan that’s been designated as one of the 100 most delicious waters in Japan. Rikyu no Mizu was especially prized by Sen no Rikyu, the 16th century tea master who would go on to have a tremendous impact on the tea ceremony.
▼ We only wish he’d lived long enough to develop the pudding ceremony.
Sen no Rikyu isn’t around anymore to give the special matcha pudding his personal seal of approval, but gourmets and traditionalists alike will be happy to know that Okoi was developed under the watchful eye of Munemori Kobayakawa, an instructor from the venerated Urasenke tea ceremony school.
There is one modern concession made to the pudding, though, which is the inclusion of cocoa powder used in making white chocolate. Not only does it add a dash of sweetness, it also helps to keep the pudding from becoming too runny, helping to maintain just the right texture.
If you’re not sure you’re ready to head past the 5,000-yen mark for your dessert, Pudding Laboratory also has a less expensive yet still decadent matcha offering in the form of Ousu.
Like Okoi, Ousu uses tea from Teragawa Daifukuen, but switches from Chiyo no Mukashi to Hatsu Mukashi leaves. Ousu uses the same Rikyu no Mizu water though, and at 3,240 yen ($30) is quite a bit easier on the wallet than its even more upmarket product line sibling.
Both types of matcha pudding can be ordered online here directly from Pudding Laboratory.