Matcha tea is an important beverage in Japan, used in traditional tea ceremonies and favored as an everyday, relaxing beverage as well. Before arriving in Tokyo, I understood that matcha was a popular beverage. What I didn’t understand, but have come to appreciate, is that matcha is also a popular food ingredient!
Matcha tea is made from high quality green tea leaves. After the leaves are dried, they are ground into a fine powder (see photo above). Small quantities of matcha powder are whisked (or just stirred) into almost-boiling hot water to make tea. Note that there’s no “tea bag” here – there’s nothing to remove from your cup. Instead, matcha is whole tea, where the leaves themselves are consumed instead of merely steeped. Why is this significant? For starters, drinking matcha tea provides significantly more antioxidants per cup because you are consuming the entire leaf. Remember, antioxidants are powerful little cancer fighters and anti-aging weapons! Also, matcha tea contains more caffeine that steeped tea, making matcha tea a nice substitute for a cup of coffee.
Here in Tokyo, we’ve seen matcha powder used as a seasoning. In the photo to the left, a lovely slice of barracuda tempura has been dusted with salt and matcha. Absolutely delicious!
We’ve also seen matcha used to flavor Japanese interpretations of traditional French desserts. I’m reserving those photos, friends, because I plan to recreate a few sweet treats and bring you recipes here at Crowded Earth Kitchen. Stay tuned!
Finally, matcha ice cream is quite popular here. The matcha soft serve ice cream cone shown below is Half-Pint approved!
Want to try matcha for yourself? Here’s a link for you!