Matcha -The Joy of Going Green
The Way of Tea, Japanese-style
Having previously lived in Japan for several years, I am no stranger to the joys of a good cup of o-cha –green tea, although it did take some time to get used to it. I enjoy trying different grades and varieties, sampling the latest offering from my local Asian food supermarket and comparing it to the various tins and boxes in my overcrowded tea cupboard.
The buzz about matcha, however, confused me. My only encounter with it was at the obligatory Japanese tea ceremony every foreigner suffers through, in which a powdery green substance is whisked in a tea bowl and handed to the unwary gaijin, who tries not to commit any gaffes when consuming the drink.
So when I started noticing matcha popping up in the most unlikely places-smoothie shops, cafes, and even my local Wal-mart, I had to check it out. Turns out, many people are consuming it for its health benefits-like the standard green tea, it has a high level of antioxidants; many people claim that because you are drinking the powder, you also consuming the whole leaf and getting more nutrients; it’s becoming the protein powder of tea drinkers everywhere, and there are more and more ways of using it in everything from smoothies to doughnuts and even popcorn. I did some research, scouring the green-tea drinking internet, checking out local health food stores, and asking health conscious tea-drinking friends about ways to use this versatile substance.
Matcha has a sweet, umami taste, a Japanese term meaning “pleasant, savory taste.” This makes it ideal for both sweet and savory recipes.
Curious? Below are 8 super-easy recipes to get you started using matcha- and liking it.
Matcha Smoothie-making 101
Most people are familiar with smoothies and have a blender handy. This recipe is one of the best ways to introduce yourself to matcha. Use a typical smoothie base of one frozen banana, a few teaspoons of honey or sweetener of your choice, a cup of unsweetened almond milk (or ½ cup of yogurt and ½ cup of soy or low-fat milk, if you prefer) and 1 or 2 teaspoons of matcha (try with a smaller amount and increase depending on taste). Puree it until it is smooth and voila! Enjoy a healthy, delicious drink with a vibrant green color the Hulk would envy. Substitute a quarter-cup of berries for the banana to ensure a fruitier taste, or one and a quarter cup of mango chunks for a sweeter boost. This is a great breakfast to start your day.
A breakfast alternative is to add a few tablespoons of matcha to your oatmeal. Top with nuts and berries for a nutritional powerhouse.
Matcha Chia Pudding
I like to make the following recipe from Sarah Wilson’s book, I Quit Sugar, which she got from Lee Holmes. Add a teaspoon of the green stuff to it for an instant update. This makes a great breakfast or sweet, sugar-free snack.
Lee Holmes' Chia Pudding
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts.
- 120 g raw cashew
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 drops of liquid stevia or rice malt syrup, to taste.
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts, to serve.
- strawberries to serve (optional).
- almond milk, to serve.
- 1. Combine the salt, hazelnuts, cashews, vanilla, stevia and spices with 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) of filtered water in a blender and whizz until smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl and add the chia seeds.
- Stir to combine well, then cover and place in the fridge overnight.
Matcha Frozen Yogurt-sicles
If you prefer something cooler, take some plain yogurt, a little sweetener, and matcha powder to taste and freeze it in popsicle molds
Matcha bread, cake, or cookies
Add two to four tablespoons of matcha powder to banana/zucchini bread dough, cookies, or cakes. The resulting green color should make you feel healthier just looking at the new mean, green incarnation of your favorite baked goods.
Matcha Ice Cream
You may have already sampled green tea ice cream. Adding two teaspoons of matcha powder to one cup of vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream will produce the same result. Let the ice cream or yogurt soften slightly for easier mixing results.
Use a drizzle of olive oil on the popcorn and follow that with a sprinkling of two parts salt and one part matcha powder.
There you have it – some starter recipes to experiment with using matcha in a variety of foods. If, like me, you enjoy the taste, it should be easy to find ways to incorporate it in your favorite foods-and introduce it to new foods you encounter along the way. Enjoy going green!