But the non-tea toppings are the even bigger surprise.
Being in business for 189 years gives you a chance to experiment with your product lineup, and that’s exactly what tea merchant Itohkyuemon has been doing. Sure, Uji matcha is still the company’s flagship product, but in recent years it’s also offered green tea ice cream, curry, and white wine, and next month it’s set to embark on an all new culinary endeavor with matcha pizza.
With the special pies going on sale right around Valentine’s Day, you might assume they’re dessert pizzas, given how popular matcha sweets have become. But nope, these are main dishes with mozzarella cheese and two different sets of additional topping to choose from.
The major matcha content comes in the crust, which is made with a mixture of Uji matcha powder and Sacco Rosso flour from Naples. Considering how common herbal seasonings are on pizzas, and if you broadly define an herb as an edible leaf, matcha pizza actually doesn’t seem that crazy. What’s likely to be a bit higher hurdle, though, are the other toppings, which are pickled Kyoto vegetables made in the local Kyo-tsukemono style. The Gobo Hakusai Pizza is a non-tomato sauce pizza with crunchy burdock root and crisp Chinese cabbage, while the Suguki Hirona Pizza uses two different types of Japanese turnips.
Unexpected as the combination may be, Itohkyuemon, which spent seven years tinkering with the matcha pizza recipes to get them just right, says the resulting combination of rich, tart, and bitter flavors is a stimulating treat for the taste buds. Both matcha pizzas go on sale February 13, priced at 2,990 yen (US$29) for a bundle of three through Itohkyuemon’s online store.