Ryokucha encompasses a variety of common green teas in Japan, and matcha is just one variant of them. A vivid green colour, matcha holds a bitter taste that is often incorporated into sweets and desserts to add balance to the overall flavour profile.
If you’re reading this, the chances are that you are quite the fan of matcha yourself!
The difference between matcha and other varieties of green tea is how the tea leaves are picked and processed.If the tea leaves are rubbed/kneaded during the drying process, they turn into an elongated, thin needle-like shape, forming green tea. On the other hand, matcha is produced by letting the tea leaves dry with its shape left intact then ground into fine 5mm flakes.
While several places in Japan produce high-quality green teas and matcha, Shizuoka Prefecture is Japan’s largest producer, accounting for over 40% of the tea produced in Japan. As a result, it is brimming with shops and cafes specialising in tea. It’s the best destination in Japan to purchase high-quality green tea and matcha tea, and enjoy tea-based dishes and sweets served at the local cafes and restaurants.
“Nanaya (ななや)” is one such shop specialising in tea gelato. There are 7 types of matcha gelato with different levels of intensity on offer. Nanaya’s parent company, “Marushichi Seicha (丸七製茶)” was founded in 1907 with 7 owners. The origin of the shop’s name and reason for offering 7 levels of match gelato, comes from the number “7”, which is pronounced as “Nana” in Japanese.
When you step inside the shop, you will be struck by the vibrant gradation of green colour in the gelato display case. The matcha gelato you’re used to eating would most likely be at the same strength as Level 1 at Nanaya, with Level 7 described as the “most intense and rich level of matcha in the world”.
If you are trying two flavours of match gelato, it is recommended to select at least one level apart, such as Level 1 with 3, or Level 5 with 7, to fully experience the difference in flavour.
Most customers are interested in trying the Level 7 intensity, which has an intensely deep aroma and taste. Despite this, it is not overly bitter and can simply be described as a highly rich matcha.