Matcha made in heaven
All things to do with green tea are quite the rage, from ice cream and smoothies to cakes and biscuits.
I will admit to power-walking from the office to Sydney’s CBD to meet my friend Burt for an express lunch and slurping an iced green tea latte and then racing back to my desk, quite convinced that all that exercise has negated any kilojoules. In the Japanese language, finely ground green tea powder is matcha and the trendier cafes and shops in Australia go for that original name as well. Burt says he is my number one matcha mate and never minds that we hardly have time to talk during the liquid lunch sessions.
We do compare Instagram feeds, though, as there is a banquet of options to follow from @matcha_maiden and @mistamatcha to @goenmatcha and @zenwonders_matcha. There seems to be no end to the inventiveness of matcha recipes, any one of which could be a desert island dish. Or, as Burt quips, should that be dessert?
In Kyoto earlier this month, my daughter-in-law Sanae and I dashed like mad things into the triumphantly green Ujicha Gion Tsujiri store to snaffle boxes of matcha pastries and treat our little travelling group to ice cream cones. She asked if I had tried sencha ice cream. I told her I’ve had sencha tea roasted with brown rice to create an earthy, even popcorn-like, taste. The idea of sencha ice cream, however, seemed odd and the presented tower of twirls was a deep brownish-green colour and not wildly attractive. But, oh dear, now I have an additional addiction because sencha ice cream is the bomb, as the youngsters would say. Deeper in flavour than matcha, oddly savoury as well as slightly sweet, tasting of steeped tea leaves, like the best cup of cha in the world converted to Mr Whippy swirls.
At the Aman Tokyo hotel, I had green tea pancakes for breakfast, dusted with icing sugar, adorned with cherries, whipped cream, crème anglaise and a treacly dip. I found tiny tubs of matcha ice cream in vending machines at railway stations in Nagoya and Nara. At the riverside cafe of Kyoto’s Suiran hotel, I had an iced matcha latte that seemed more intense and delicious than any I’d tasted. The ice blocks were frozen cubes of matcha, slowly melting and infusing additional flavour. Clearly, matcha dates with Burt won’t be as exhilarating until Sydney lifts its game. Follow on Instagram: susankurosawa