Friday, April 13, 2007

Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea Yogurt

One-word verdict: Wowsa!

The backstory: This yogurt definitely caught me off-guard. I picked up a cup at Trader Joe’s last week on a whim when I was stocking up on Fage—noticed the cup in the fridge case, thought “I like green tea, that could be interesting,” glanced at the Nutrition Facts, approved, and popped it into the basket.
Now I wish I had bought twelve.

Nutrition: One of the (few) downsides of this yogurt is that—perhaps because it’s part of a TJ’s new snazzy-looking “Coffeehaus” line—it comes in slightly smaller-than-average sized cups: 5.3 ounces instead of your standard 6. So let the rejiggering of the Nutrition Facts begin…

Per 6 ounces of this yogurt, my calculations tell me, you will find 125 calories, 17 grams sugar, and 1.1 grams saturated fat. (Per actual 5.3-ounce serving, the numbers are 110 calories, 15 grams sugar, and 1 gram sat fat.) Even with it’s reduced size, the yogurt packs a decent amount of calcium (25% daily value in the 5.3-ounce cup). And it’s kosher and gluten-free.

Not bad.

Well, how is it? Dude, if you like green tea and you like yogurt, I’d say run, don’t walk, to your nearest Trader Joe’s and get some (because you never know if it’s going to be discontinued next week).

I opened it up and was greeted with a bright green (well, yellowish-green) color—almost exactly the same color that appears on the outside of the cup. The yogurt had separated a bit and there was a puddle of clear whey on top, but once I had mixed the yogurt a little bit the texture was silky-smooth and light.

I sniffed and got a mild whiff of green tea flavor but also, to my surprise, a real dose of actual yogurty scent. Was this yogurt actually going to taste like yogurt?

Yes, it was! In the smooth first bite, I definitely tasted the telltale mild yogurty tang that told me we were not in typical American yogurt territory. As for the green tea flavor, if you’ve ever had a Matcha Green Tea Blast from Jamba Juice or a Green Tea Frappuccino from Starbucks (both of which I’ll admit to having been a little bit obsessed with a few years back, at least until I found out how much sugar was in them), it’s like that, but less sweet. You probably taste the yogurtiness first, but then the green tea taste lingers after the yogurt has gone down. In fact, this may sound weird, but if you eat a few bites then close your mouth and breathe out your nose, you can taste the green tea flavor again on your tongue.

I devoured.

Where's it made? Again, not sure where the ingredients come from, but this stuff is “Distributed & Sold Exclusively” from Trader Joe’s Monrovia, CA, address, 2,759 miles from NYC.

Ingredient notes: I couldn’t believe how short the ingredients list was when I first picked up the cup. Grade A pasteurized skim milk, cream, nonfat milk, sugar, matcha green tea, and four bacterial cultures. No thickeners or stabilizers or or colors, no starches or gums or preservatives. Dairy, sugar, green tea, cultures—which is exactly what it tastes like when you eat it.

A slight quibble, though: What’s the difference between the skim milk and the nonfat milk? Is only the skim milk (but not the cream or nonfat milk) pasteurized? (I find that hard to believe.)

Processing/Earth-/Animal-friendliness: The container is your standard #5 plastic with a foil lid. And unfortunately, the cup makes no claims that any of the yogurt’s ingredients are organic, minimally processed, or anything but conventional.

Price: 99 cents per 5.3-ounce cup at Trader Joe’s…which translates to $1.12 per 6 ounces.

The bottom line: Brilliant taste, great European-style texture, and I love the spare ingredients list. I wish I knew more about the origins of the ingredients and that the cup wasn’t skimpy-sized, which is going to lose it a couple of points on price and sugar content. Still, highly recommended if you like green tea. (As an aside, I imagine they must have a companion “Coffeehaus” coffee flavor…which is another flavor I don’t do, so I’d love a report from the field!)


Trader Joe’s Coffeehaus Matcha Green Tea Lowfat Yogurt:
taste: 5; texture: 3; flavor novelty: 1; sugar: 1; sat fat: 1; price: 1; free of thickeners/preservatives: 2

TOTAL = 14

Link: Trader Joe's.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad to find someone else who loves this yogurt. I was feeling a bit guilty about it, seeing as it's a novelty flavor, but you have validated my extreme fondness!

Thanks- love the blog, too. I could LIVE off of yogurt!

Anonymous said...

Darling, I don't know if you have any access to Stoneyfield Organic Yogurt (Regular Vanilla is my favorite), but I've been mixing in matcha powder from the local oriental market into a quart for about a year now. It is the nirvana you describe, I go through 3 quarts a week (and three spare tbsp of matcha powder). Matcha is very light, so you have break the creamy top, mix up the yogurt evenly, then introduce the matcha. I mix half a tbsp at a time, mostly at the very top, then to copmlete the texture I break the dark matcha aggregate into the yogurt by pressing it against the container. Of course, a mini blender (milk frother) would work wonders, but my way is decidedly cheaper.

Glad to find someone else who adores the matcha yogurt. I've been telling everyone with any interest in yogurt about this trick. (The closest trader joe's is 2 hours away from me!)---Abby

TD said...

Anonymous #2 - this sounds wonderful. I've been back into making my own yogurt lately and thinking about trying to get my hands on some matcha you've totally inspired me. Thanks!

SamInNB said...

Sorry folks -- went to Trader Joe's in SoCal yesterday and was told the Matcha Yogurt has been discontinued...So sad.

TD said...

For real, Sam? Oh, this is sad indeed.

SaminNB said...

I am serious TD. Sucks, huh? I spent this past week trying to make my own - using kefir, agave and matcha powder. Alas, it was edible (and healthy), but nowhere near as good as TJ's.

Anonymous said...

I love this yogurt. I don't like sweet yogurt in general (like the plain regular kind) but this one I love and have been buying them by the dozen. Problem is for the last week they have been out of stock and now I know why. They have discontinued it because of slow sales?? I can't believe it. I was addicted to this yogurt. It tastes like green tea pudding icecream....

TD said...

Well, it seems to be officially gone. I bought matcha powder at a Japanese supermarket this weekend and I just made a fresh batch of yogurt, so we're going to give this DIY version a try. Will report.

Katie said...

Why did they get rid of this? It was the best flavor out of the three for their "European" style line. I think the coffee and chocolate versions were awful!