What do you know about matcha? If you are reading this, you are likely in the tea industry and know that matcha is a powdered Japanese green tea, hot water added, very respectfully whisked with a chasen (tea whisk) into a beautiful, frothy, bright green loveliness and consumed as part of the Japanese tea ceremony. It is a bright green, hot tea, served in a chawan (tea bowl).
What many of our friends or customers may not know is that matcha is not just a brewed tea where the tea is discarded afterward. The unique quality of matcha is that the entire tea leaf is consumed. The powdered or ground up Japanese green tea leaves are whisked into the hot water to help it dissolve well enough to be enjoyed as a smooth, slightly astringent, slightly sweet frothy tea. The tea is not removed as in traditional tea brewing. Some people liken it to a soup since matcha can be best described as umami. Umami is a Japanese word that defines a taste quality somewhere between sweet and savory. It is an essence captured by the pureness of the entire leaf. And this is the reason that matcha is the perfect ingredient in sweet or savory dishes, drinks, or on its own as an authentic, green tea beverage.
When cooking with matcha, you must be aware that to ensure proper consistency, it needs some help blending in. If you are baking with it, you will add the matcha to the wet ingredients. If you are cooking with it, it is best added to water or other hot liquid ingredient first, again to ensure it dissolves or disperses evenly.
There are many different varieties of matcha to choose from. Since this can be confusing – ceremonial quality vs. cooking quality, we asked Rona Tison, VP Corporate Relations at ITO EN for some advice. Ms. Tison explained that when you purchase matcha, it will be labeled as ceremonial or culinary for cooking or baking purposes. You will notice a price difference as well with ceremonial matcha priced a bit higher. Culinary matcha is great for baked goods, cakes, pastries, cookies, and savory foods. It may also be used with dairy products, such as ice cream and lattes.
I recently attended a fantastic lecture and cooking demonstration in New York City at the Japan Society – Drink, Cook, Eat: A Modern Take on the Love of Matcha – read about it here. The event, sponsored by Ito En (North America) focused on modern uses for matcha and included cooking demonstrations using their new line of matcha LOVE® green tea powders. During a tasting reception at the event, several recipes had been prepared by Candice Kumai from her new book, Clean Green Drinks, mentioned in the event coverage. Please enjoy the following recipe using matcha in a very modern, very delicious way!
The Green Matcha Tea Smoothie
Add ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
Very green and very delicious!
If you would like to try some more recipes using matcha, click here for a pdf document including how to make Matcha Crusted Halibut in a Light Matcha Dashi and a recipe for Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream. Enjoy!