Monday, November 19, 2012
Furuta Green Tea Sequoia
There's a video my husband and I shot in 1995 which we made to show our family and friends what it was like to live there at the time. I don't remember who we sent it to, but part of it includes a trek around our local shopping street (shotengai) and the shops that were on offer at the time. I recently watched that video again for the first time in a very long time and I was shocked at how few of the shops survived to 2012. In fact, I'm pretty sure that only the biggest markets (e.g., Peacock, Seiyu, etc.) made it to the present day.
One of the sites caught on camera on that video were several girls eating green tea "soft cream" (soft serve) in a tea shop. On the video, my response to the idea of green tea flavored sweets was "yuck!" At that time, the thought of bitter, grassy green tea being mixed with sugar rubbed me completely the wrong way. I think there are still plenty of Western folks out there who feel the same way.
I think green tea seems stranger as a flavoring for sweets as compared to black tea (English tea) or coffee because you don't see people putting sugar and milk in green tea, but you do find people adding them to those beverages which Western folks regard as more mainstream. Sweet coffee is common. Sweet green tea is unheard of, at least in Japan.
As time has gone by, the notion of green tea sweets has grown on me, though it still hasn't blossomed into the sort of passion that I've seen others display. I sometimes like it, and sometimes don't care for it. A lot depends on the intensity and the flavor mix. Generally, green tea plus chocolate isn't as good as green tea chocolate, if you know what I mean. That is, if it's white chocolate which has green tea flavoring, it's not as dangerous to the taste buds as milk or dark chocolate with some green tea component.
You can imagine my concern when I started to unwrap this Sequoia wafer chocolate bar and saw that the bottom was what appeared to be semi-sweet chocolate. The top is olive green (and had bloomed a bit to boot, that's the white stuff on it) and the illustration tells us that there is green tea cream between the wafers.
A sniff revealed a discordant mix of chocolate and tea aromas. A bite revealed that it was indeed semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate on the bottom. This meant that there was a turf war on my tongue for which bitter flavor got to dominate, the tea's or the chocolate's. Neither one. They kicked up a lot of dirt, made a mess, and it was a draw. I really didn't care for the mixture of these two flavors. Though there is ample sweetness on hand to off-set them, it just tasted "wrong" to me.
On the best of days, Sequoia's wafer-based chocolate bars can disappoint, but this was really more unpleasant than usual from my viewpoint. I think that my reaction was an extremely subjective one. This isn't a bad bar overall, and I'm sure some people will enjoy it, but it simply was not for me. I ended up throwing the rest away after eating a little less than half.