Third premium offering in line of matcha is set to please the palate while hurting the wallet.
Beverage company Ito En raised more than a few eyebrows last year when it announced a premium version of its popular Oi Ocha bottled green tea. While standard bottles of Oi Ocha are modestly priced at around 130 yen (US$1.20), last October Ito En decided to experiment with an upscale brew costing 1,000 yen.
The gamble paid off, as the premium Oi Ocha became a big seller among a wide range of customers looking for a unique gift or a thirst-quenching conversation piece. A subsequent follow-up was also a sales success, and now Ito En is ready to launch its third variety of high-class Oi Ocha.
Called Oi Ocha Koorimizudashi Gyokuro, this special tea is made with only gyokuro tea leaves, a variety of matcha grown in the shade to help lock in its elegant taste. Specifically, the tea makes use of matcha grown in Kyoto’s Uji, a strain exclusive enough that it accounts for just 0.2 percent of all tea grown in Japan.
Just as important as the ingredients, though, is how they’re used. The gyokuro tea leaves are mixed with cold, iced water, and the long, slow process helps smooth out astringent flavor notes while drawing out more of their latent sweetness, with the end result promising to be a refreshing beverage during Japan’s hot and humid summer.
Oi Ocha Koorimizudashi Gyokuro goes on sale June 13 at 1,000 yen for a 375-mililiter (12.7-ounce) bottle. Unlike previous versions in the high-end Oi Ocha line, the new tea will not be available as an off-the-shelf purchase, but only by advance order.