Family Mart gives us a tea ceremony to go this summer.

Lately, Japanese convenience stores have been bringing out do-it-yourself drinks designed to be used in conjunction with their in-store drink machines.

After trying the 7-Eleven frozen smoothie, we heard that rival chain Family Mart had a new drink in their freezer section, and this one was created with the help of Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten, an esteemed tea shop in Uji, Kyoto, which was founded over 450 years ago.

▼ The drink is simply called the “Uji Matcha Frappe“.

Uji is synonymous with matcha, as its terroir is perfectly suited to high-quality production of powdered green tea, so anything with “Uji” in its name promises to deliver a superior flavour.

Its esteemed reputation makes it sought after in formal tea ceremonies, but would this new convenience store product tarnish its highly held reputation? There was only one way to find out, so we headed down to our nearest Family Mart when the new drink was released on 24 May, and picked one up from the freezer for 320 yen (US$2.53).

After paying at the register, we peeled the lid off the cup and took a look inside. It was filled halfway with creamy matcha ice cream.

To turn the ice cream into a frappe, all you have to do is follow the three-step instructions on the back of the cup, which advise you to Massage! Press! Mix!

So we gave the cup a good massage with two hands to loosen the ice cream inside, and headed over to the coffee machine, popping the drink inside and pressing the “Frappe” button as instructed.

▼ The addition of milk is the magic juice needed to turn the frozen ice cream into an ice-cold frappe.

When we took the cup out of the machine, we realised we hadn’t massaged it enough, as the ice cream hadn’t mixed in with the milk at all.

Using the straw provided, we gave it a mix and still weren’t entirely satisfied so we set about massaging and mixing at the same time to get a nice frothy green consistency. Taking a sip, we were hit with a strong taste of matcha from the bottom of the cup, so we continued to blend it some more to even out the flavours. Once we’d done that, though, we were happy to say that this did deliver the high-quality flavour of Uji matcha that we’d been hoping for.

The matcha was fresh, mellow and earthy — just like the green tea served at a tea ceremony. The addition of milk gave it a cafe au lait style twist, which, when you think about it, is pretty apt for a collaboration between a centuries-old tea shop and a modern convenience store.

It’s like a very convenient convenience store tea ceremony for the modern individual who wants to squeeze some tradition into their busy workday. If that sounds like you, then head on down to Family Mart to give it a try, and you can also pick up some rainbow socks and rainbow chicken while you’re there!

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