“A modern take”, they said repeatedly, at Japan Society (New York City) Wednesday night as Rona Tison, Ito En, and Candice Kumai, celebrity chef, came together to present a lecture, cooking demonstration, and tasting reception focused around the Love of Matcha or matcha LOVE® to be more precise.
Drink, Cook, Eat: A Modern Take on the Love of Matcha, kicked off to a full house in the lecture hall at Japan Society, with a discussion and explanation of the history of matcha. Well known for its use in Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha (powdered green tea) has a rich, slightly astringent flavor with a lingering sweetness that has become a sought-after ingredient for baking, cooking, and health drinks. “With matcha, the entire leaf is consumed,” said Tison, “and provides an energizing taste and health benefits that fit right in to a modern desire for healthy living. ” She went on to explain that matcha is used for Japanese tea ceremonies but that the ceremony itself has evolved as well. Matcha is traditionally made in a chawan, or tea bowl, and mixed together with a chasen, bamboo tea whisk to help it dissolve evenly and is taken and enjoyed with much respect in a formal ceremony. In modern times, ceremonial practices have evolved to encourage more relaxed settings. People are enjoying matcha more casually, seated at a table for instance, rather than kneeling in ceremonial style.
Rona Tison is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations at ITO EN (North America) Inc. She is half-Japanese, grew up in Japan, is fluent in Japanese, and well-versed in Japanese traditions. Candice Kumai, a NY Times bestselling author, is currently a regular judge on Food Network’s Iron Chef America and contributor to Shape and Men’s Fitness magazines. Candice is also half Japanese, fluent, and very proud of her heritage particularly when it comes to cooking.
Ms. Tison presented the history of matcha and further described its traditional use and more modern uses. “A Modern Take on an Ancient Ritual” is the tag line for Ito En’s new range of powdered matcha, various loose teas and accoutrements, and small cans of sweetened or unsweetened green tea made with matcha. Modern times call for a ready-to-drink option (in the can) and a variety of matcha powders to use in both traditional and modern takes on the Japanese tea ceremony and other everyday delights surrounding drinking, cooking, and eating. As one of the main sponsors of the event, matcha LOVE® was used in the cooking demonstrations and in foods and drinks that were served following the lecture during the tasting reception.
Ms. Kumai discussed her Japanese heritage and love for cooking. She believes in preparing and enjoying foods in their natural state and in ways that bring out the highest nutritional value possible. She is author of the just released new book entitled Clean Green Drinks: 100+ Cleansing Recipes to Renew & Restore Your Body and Mind. It is a guide to a leaner, happier, and cleaner you. It features delicious drink recipes made with real ingredients like Ito En teas and matcha LOVE® green tea powders. In her cooking demonstration on Wednesday evening, Ms. Kumai prepared Matcha Crusted Halibut in a Light Matcha Dashi and Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream (non-dairy!). And throughout, the fun ensued of using matcha in a more “modern” fashion.
During the tasting reception, Candice signed copies of her new book while guests were treated to samplings of matcha green tea, a Green Matcha Tea Smoothie, the Matcha Crusted Halibut served over Matcha Soba Noodles, and a Green Matcha Tea Loaf Cake, along with other bottled teas from Ito En including their Teas’ Tea line of refreshing true teas. Finally, what would a Japanese meal be without a Japanese beer? Kirin Beer provided beer for the event and Cuisinart provided the very impressive ice cream maker used in the demonstration.
The Japan Society event certainly presented a modern take on using green tea, particularly matcha, in new ways to enhance the healthy aspects of drinks and culinary delights. Ms. Tison commented on the importance of bringing better awareness to green tea, its pureness, and authentic taste. When prepared properly and added to favorite drinks and dishes, it is becoming a part of modern-day, healthy living.