My most recent visit to an Asian supermarket left me with this question: Have all the food products that can be flavored with matcha been flavored with matcha? Besides cookies, ice cream, jelly, mochi, noodles, and countless types of beverages, I saw for the first time uncooked, green-colored tapioca pearls packaged in a bag that not only displays the prepared tapioca shining like emerald stones, but also highlights the green tea content in big print. Consumers often have a hard time detecting the matcha flavor in these products, which makes me wonder if some artificial colors might have been used instead.
In 2009, Green Tea Cola debuted in Japan. Several YouTube videos recorded the excitement, or disappointment rather, of many customers’ first taste of this novelty beverage, which is surprisingly being marketed as a healthy drink. Isn’t “healthy cola” an oxymoron? Coca-Cola then launched Sprite Tea – also flavored with green tea – in China. If you are interested in trying a green tea-flavored carbonated soft drink in the States, you may be able to find Ramune, a well-known Japanese soft drink in a bottle that is sealed with a marble that is available at many local Asian supermarkets.
Food manufacturers have the critical responsibility of ensuring ingredient safety; they should also be held accountable for the claims they make regarding their products’ boons. I have not read up on how matcha’s health benefits diminish after being incorporated into processed food, but I suspect they do. Enjoying matcha in its most primitive form – as hot tea – should alleviate some of these worries.