I placed the order on Ippodo's website last Thursday, it was shipped on Friday, and arrived on Tuesday. Essentially 2 business days from Japan. Even though the shipping cost is a bit expensive, but this makes me amazed at the efficiency of these people.
The neatly packaged matcha cans/boxes from Ippodo, all wrapped in paper printed with the beginning part of Cha-Jing by ancient Chinese tea expert Lu Yu from the Tang Dynasty. I ordered almost all of their matcha except for the Ummon-no Mukashi and the Seiun (the two most expensive ones).
Kaishi that I ordered from Ippodo as well. SO NICE. Printed with flowers and stuff too! :)
A few of the guides and catalog from Ippodo. Great business skills! And great packaging and fast delivery. They really do have the 4Ps of marketing down.
So I couldn't wait. I needed to test them all. Ended up trying only the 4 lowest grades, 2 chashaku each. I wanted to try more, but my head started going swooooozy over the amount of caffeine, so I stopped.
First I started off with the cheapest one. The Hatsu-Mukashi. SO GROSS, as either koicha or usucha. Maybe I'm just used to my nice pinnacle grade from Teaopia and the contrast is making it feel worse than it actually is, but i really felt very disgusted by it. The flavour is so bitter and sharp and astringent, especially as a koicha, I wanted to throw up. Sadly I read that it was good somewhere, so I ordered 3 boxes of 40g. Guess I will only use it as a food grade in the future. Thank goodness they were only 500yen each.
Next is the Fuku-Mukashi. At 1000yen for 40g box, I think this is actually not too bad of a deal. I wouldn't mind using it as an usucha when I'm really desperate for matcha. Most likely though, it will end up as ice cream topping just like the Hatsu-Mukashi.
Now we have the Kimmo-no-Mukashi, 600yen for 20g, which Ippodo recommends as beginner's matcha. I can see why they recommend it: it frothes well, nice colour, a degree of sweetness, but still enough astringency and enough bitterness to make a statement. Still can't compare to my Teaopia Matcha Pinnacle though. (But that was $35CAD for 30g, so, although not saying price equals quality, but these are totally not on the same level. DUH)
Lastly, the Ikuyo-no-Mukashi, 1200yen for 40g, was not too bad either. I would say it is even more bold and astringent than the Kimmo, with much less sweetness. My terrible attempt at making a koicha out of it made me wanna cry. Expensive matcha cheesecake filler is what I guess this tin will turn out to be.
Although I have yet to try the other matcha, Ippodo's business methods are seriously impressive to me, as a business student. The way they conduct themselves, the professionalism and dedication, the attention to detail, and everything about the way they've handled each transaction scream out how wonderful the minds of these business people are. Very admirable.