Kit-Kat Reviews: Passion Fruit, Sakura Matcha and Uji Matcha

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So what have I been writing about these last few months. We’ve done some film reviews, we’ve started a long series all about the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, I’ve discussed adaptation extensively.

Hmmm, I think it might be time for me to talk about Kit-Kats.

Yes, Kit-Kats. Despite not having lived in Japan for 3 years I have retained my ability to find special Kit-Kats remains. This time it’s due to a donation from a friend of mine so thank you Kaori Yoshikawa, and if you’re interested in reading about Kit-Kats then you should all thank her too.

Incidentally if anyone in future wants to donate some kit-kats to me to review, or any Japanese foodstuffs, I am more than happy to do that. You can find me on twitter at RAdamHalls if you have a suggestion.

So Kaori gave me three flavours, two of which are green tea variants and the final one of which is a passion fruit flavour. I think I’ve discussed green tea enough on this blog to be honest and these flavours don’t seem to be adding anything new so we’ll just talk about the packaging briefly and then move on to the real star of the show, passion fruit.

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So let’s start with the pink one. Well it’s a very attractive box, the contrast of pink and green works nicely and it avoids being overtly cluttered. We have a picture of a cup of matcha which looks very inviting (do not be tricked, matcha looks significantly nicer than it tastes ) and some beautiful pink sakura blossoms. All in all this is a well composed Kit-Kat package.

Oh and there’s some Kanji on there, and hey! Just for a change this is Kanji I can read, one of them says Sakura and the others say Matcha and…

Oh hell!

This is a new flavour isn’t it. I’m going to have to review it again.

Arse biscuits.

Yes, a little research and reading the back of the packet confirms it, this Kit-Kat is flavoured with both matcha which I’ve reviewed many, many times before and sakura (i.e. cherry blossom) which I have not reviewed before.

I have had sakura tea before though and my main impression of it was that it was really salty. Really salty. Saltier than you’re imagining. Picture some seawater, now add some salt, now boil it for a bit so some of the water evaporates, now ejaculate into it. Saltier.

Which is not what you’d expect something called cherry blossom to taste of. You’d probably imagine there’d be some cherry aspect to it. But nope, just water and salt. Does that sound like an appetising cup of tea to you? Probably not, and if it does consider seeking a doctor, your tastebuds are broken.

It was basically a thoroughly unpleasant experience and not one I ever hoped to re-create so you can imagine I’m absolutely thrilled to have to try a sakura matcha Kit-Kat.

For any Japanese people reading this that’s an example of sarcasm, you might refer to it as an “American joke” and look bemused.

Oh well, before we get to that let’s look at the individual wrapper.

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It’s actually one of the best individual wrappers I can remember seeing and uses a pattern that’s completely new too. Rather than having one massive Kit-Kat logo in the middle that spoils the design it has a pattern of smaller red Kit-Kat logos repeating along with sakura blossoms, kanji and the English name all set against a patterned pink background. It’s very attractive and it makes sense, you have already bought the product by the time you see the indivdual wrapper, you don’t need yet another big red logo slapped in the middle. It’s not like you’ve forgotten in the time it tales you to take the individual wrapper out of the box that you’re eating a Kit-Kat.

Or does Kit-Kat think that people will forget? That because it’s pink and not red they’ll undergo some kind of existential crisis and break down into some kind of fit if they don’t see a Kit-Kat logo?

Nah, it’s probably a marketing rule thing.

It’s in the tasting that I have to own up to a problem with these particular three flavours. They didn’t make it through their journey over seas and then sit around in my flat in the middle of the hottest heatwave in the U.K. on record entirely unscathed. Instead they’ve melted into one big chocolatey wafery mess that will probably prove a detriment to the eating somewhat.

You never know though, it might be an improvement.

But with that in mind let’s give it a shot, sakura matcha. How does it taste?

If you said like every other matcha Kit-Kat I’ve ever eaten then…you’re wrong actually. I know I was surprised too. I went into this fully expecting it to be boring and samey but this is nice, really really nice and quite distinct from other green tea or matcha flavours. For starters it isn’t too sweet, nor is it too bitter. If anything the main flavour is cream. It does taste of green tea, obviously but it has a really strong, smooth creamy feel to it that it is absolutely delightful both flavour and texture wise.

And then in the aftertaste the saltiness of the sakura comes through. But whereas in tea it was disgusting in chocolate it works. It cuts the sweetness considerably and livens up the taste buds so the green tea and creamy notes really sing. If you’ve ever had a white fudge pretzel flip (I have confused every non-American and every Brit not my age) it’s similar only not as sweet and with a subtle green tea flavour to it. It’s really very moreish actually and works extremely well with a real cuppa.

This one was a bit of a revelation, I expected something disgusting but it’s a complete and utter winner.

So what about the other flavour?

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Well no luck with the Kanji this time but some research reveals this is Uji Matcha, basically a kind of very refined, very high quality matcha. I’m not the world’s biggest matcha fan and have absolutely no idea what Uji matcha tastes like or how it is distinguished from regular matcha.

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The package is okay but a touch busy. I like the use of black as  main colour, it really let’s the colours of green and red work together rather than clashing and adds a touch of sophistication. It’s also something I associate with Japnese tea houses which often have polished black wood as their main colour with highlights of red, gold and green. The off kilter design reduces the clutter and I really like the umbrella which is one of those quintessentially Japanese things. The only part I don’t like really is patterned cloth in pink and purple which adds a clashing colour and makes it unclear what exactly we’re looking at. Rather than a box of powdered tea it makes the green section look like some kind of cloth which is kind of confusing.

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The individual wrapper is similar to the sakura matcha just not as nice. Same repeating pattern but instead of gorgeous sakura leaves and pink we have tea leaves and green. It’s still a great wrapper though and so much more adult and inviting than most Kit-Kat wrappers.

Flavour wise it’s green tea, bitter but quite fresh and with a very refreshing after taste. It’s also not too sweet and, like the sakura matcha, surprisingly creamy. It’s a green tea Kit-Kat ultimately which are a dime a dozen but it’s a really good green tea Kit-Kat which can’t be said for most of them.

And it manages to avoid the soapy and waxy  chocolate problem

Finally we have passion fruit.

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The box is a really lovely colour. It’s a got gradient fade on it and is in various hues of yellow and orange but it just looks so warm, summery and inviting. It’s also not too busy for a change and I like the layout choice of using the trail of biscuit to lead your eye down from the Kit-Kat logo to the picture in the bottom right.

I do have two massive problems with it though.

Firsly the colour of the Kit-Kat in the picture is really close to the colour of the background so it kind of blends in. If it were me I’d have made the bottom right of the box purple so the Kit-Kat picture really pops. Also the pictures of the passion fruit are too small, not nearly delicious looking enough and they’re red? Now I’m not someone who use passion fruit all the time or anything but in my experience passion fruit are purple aren’t they? In fact i just did a google image search and got this back.

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That is a decidedly purple fruit, am I not right? There are few things in life more purple. Grimace from McDonalds, The Phantom and Ronnie (y’know Purple Ronnie? Nope, just confused all non-brits. Google it Americans) maybe but a passion fruit hAs to rank highly on your top ten list of purple things. However, the one on the box is, at best, maroon. Not the colour of a passion fruit at all. And that seems like such a weird design choice considering purple and yellow are contrasting colours and go great on packaging together. I wonder if the artist is colour blind, or has some kind of fear of the colour purple. Maybe he read The Color Purple the novel and forever associates it with lesbians. Maybe he got so distracted thinking of lesbians that he couldn’t possibly paint a purple passion fruit. I mean a passion fruit is kind of yonnic (I just gave you an awesome new word peeps, it’s the vagina equivalent of phallic, use it and impress your friends) so I can see where the lesbian fantasies might start.

Do you ever stop, read what you just wrote and have a little cry? No, me either. I stop, read what I’ve written and shrug nonchalantly, like a Frenchman. I’m half cut and it’s a fucking Kit-Kat, you’re all lucky I’m this coherent.

Where was I? Oh yeah, maroon passion fruits.

I can only assume it was done so the fruit wouldn’t clash with the Kit-Kat logo but it’s not something they’ve ever been concerned with before.

The individual wrapper is even worse, look at it.

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It’s plain yellow with a slight gradient, a Kit-Kat logo that is absolutely massive and loads and loads of text. No interesting or pleasurable aesthetic features just text on a plain background. What a terrible lazy effort.

Well, with packaging this bad, hopefully the Kit-Kat tastes better.

Unfortunately it isn’t great. For starters not only is it waxy, really waxy, waxier than any Kit-kat I’ve had recently but it is also weirdly gritty. I was prepared to put that down to the abuse it’s suffered in the heat but neither of the green tea flavours were gritty in the slightest and this is unpleasantly gritty to the extent that its hard to eat.

The flavour isn’t too bad. It starts off bland and then hits you with a really powerful hint of fresh, fruity passion fruit flavour. It is unmistakably passion fruit and if you like that flavour (and I do, I’m a massive passion fruit fan) it’s very realistic and very nice. And then it fades almost instantly back to blandness again.

It isn’t too sweet at least, being part of the “adult sweetness” range and that can be a problem for passion fruit flavoured products.

Overall I’d call this one a dud. Although it does a nice job of recreating the flavour of passion fruit the texture is simply disgusting and hard to get past.

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