Matcha made in heaven

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SUSAN KURO­SAWA

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

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