Tag Archives: Matcha

Matcha: Drink Your Tea and Eat it Too (Part II)

Photo of a single matcha green tea cookie.

Matcha Green Tea Cookie

I left off the last matcha blog with green tea ice cream.  However, there are many other ways to use matcha in cooking.

The first recipe is salad dressing.  Matcha adds a surprising kick to salad dressing, that even my five year old likes. Since you are making the salad dressing you can adjust the number of servings below to what suits your needs.  If you store this overnight in the fridge, it will separate, so store in a container where you can shake it back into its intended form before pouring over your next salad.

Matcha Salad Dressing

Serving Size 2

2 tsp. matcha

¼ cup olive or avocado oil (if you keep around other oils, walnut oil is surprising good as well)

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

½ tbsp. soy sauce

½ tbsp. lemon juice (lime juice also works here)

Start by whisking all the ingredients together except the matcha.  Then whisk in the matcha about a ½ tsp. at a time.  It may clump on you so whisk hard (or if you have one of those nifty salad dressing containers with a tight lid, shake hard).  Allow the dressing to sit for about 5-10 minutes before pouring, it allows the matcha to really incorporate its flavor.

This next recipe is for cookies.  This one took a while to get right.  I learned that matcha does not play well with most flours.  Its grassy flavor has a tendency to amplify the wheat like flavor of most pastry flours so you end up with very bland cookies that are also not that sweet.  So here I thought I would make a shortbread cookie and ended up with more of a snickerdoodle type cookie to get the tea flavor I wanted.  The recipe below includes an option for chocolate chips as my son, as one of taste testers, firmly believes it isn’t a real cookie without chocolate chips.

Matcha Cookies -With or Without Chocolate Chips

Photo of matcha green tea cookie dough in the blender.

Batter for Matcha Green Tea Cookies

2 tbsp. matcha

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

2 tsps. cream of tartar

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

2 ½ – 2 ¾ cup Brown Rice Flour

Turbinado sugar for topping (large granules, raw cane sugar)

Oven temperature:  375 degrees Fahrenheit

Bake time: 7-8 minutes per tray, makes around 3-4 dozen cookies

Photo of twelve freshly baked matcha green tea cookies.

Tray of Matcha Green Tea Cookies

Start by putting the matcha and sugar into your mixer or whisk together by hand.  This needs to be mixed until all the sugar is uniformly the same color green.  This will kick up a lot of dust, so put this on the lowest setting your mixer will go.  This step is critical to getting a uniform green cookie, otherwise you will end up cookies with green streaks in them, which is not very attractive. Next drop in the butter in half stick increments and beat until the butter is uniformly green.  You will need to stop mixing and scrap down the sides and the beater to make sure the sugar uniformly gets into all the butter.  Next put in the cream of tartar and the eggs.  Follow with the baking soda, baking powder, salt and then flour.  Incorporate the flour in ¼ – ½ cup increments.  Once you get to 2 cups in the mixer watch closely as you go to incorporate your last ½ – ¾ cup as you do not want the batter to get too dry.  The batter should remain shiny and sticky to both the beater and sides of the bowl.  Scrap down the sides one last time to ensure all flour is in and then pour out onto wax paper.  As this point, you can cover the mound of dough in wax paper and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to harden (less stickiness to work with).  If the sticky dough doesn’t bother you, pinch out about two tablespoons size amount and roll around in a ball and then lightly roll in a bowl with turbinado sugar.  Press the ball flat into about a ¼ – ½ inch thick cookie.  Leave a good inch to two inches in between cookies as these spread as they cook.  No more than 12 cookies per tray.  Place in the oven for about 7-8 minutes, you should see light brown around the bottom edges of most of the cookies on the tray.  When you pull the cookies out of the oven allow them to cool on the tray – about 10-15 minutes.  The dough stores well in the refrigerator or freezer, so you do not need to make all the cookies at once. Just keep wrapped in the wax paper and in a container so it doesn’t pick up odors from other items in the refrigerator.

Optional:  Chocolate chips – if you are going to put these in the full batter, use about ¾ to 1 cup of chips, and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.  I split the batter and mix in the chips to half of the batter, so I use about ½ cup and ½ tsp. of vanilla extract.

I hope these recipes inspire you to also explore eating your tea too.

Matcha: Drink Your Tea and Eat it Too

Matcha is considered to be the first powdered tea. Created in China sometime between 960-1139 CE, it traveled to Japan with the Zen Buddists. It is actually de-stemmed gyokuro. Matcha starts like gyokuro in Japan, by spending a few weeks in the shade before plucking, withering in the sun, and then steaming. At this point in the manufacturing process, the leaf is typically folded or rolled for gyokuro. With matcha, the leaf is dried flat and the stem is removed from the leaf and the remaining parts are sent through a granite grinding stone to make the finished matcha powder.

Whisking matcha ice cream.

Whisking matcha powder into an ice cream base.

There are a few different grades of matcha. The two most commonly found in the U.S. are ceremonial matcha and cooking matcha. Ceremonial matcha is usually made of 1st pluck of gyokuro and has a much more subtle grass and seaweed flavor. As its name implies, it is drunk during the Japanese Tea Ceremony. This type of matcha really should be drunk in the traditional way and not used for cooking. Cooking grade matcha is made of older leaves and carries a much stronger grassy taste. It holds on to its flavor even when added to recipes. It can also be drunk and its name in Japanese actually translates into daily matcha. However, in the U.S. cooking matcha is rarely marketed as a daily drinking matcha.

While, matcha as a drink for me is still an acquired taste. Cooking with it is super easy and it adds some really interesting flavor and color to everyday items, like ice cream. We recently tried two different matcha green tea ice cream; one more traditional and one vegan friendly.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream (With or Without Mint and Chocolate Chips)

Running ice cream blender mixing in chocolate chips.

Blending Chocolate Chips into Matcha Mint Ice Cream

2 cups half-and half
1 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 tbsps. matcha powder

Heat the half-and-half and heavy cream to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and stir in the brown rice syrup. Pour through strainer into a bowl and whisk in the matcha. Cooking matcha clumps a lot like corn starch, so send it through a sifter first to make your life easier in whisking in the matcha to the milk base. Cool in the refrigerator until 40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 6 hours). The matcha will float to the top, whisk again and pour into your ice cream machine based on the instructions for the machine. If you want, add in ½ tbsps. vanilla extract and 1-2 tbsps. mint extract based on your preference, just before pouring into the machine. About 10-15 minutes into churning you can add ½ cup of your favorite chocolate chips.  Finish churning the ice cream based on the instructions for your ice cream maker.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream (With or Without Mint and Chocolate Chips) – Vegan

Blended matcha ice cream base.

Matcha Ice Cream Base

¾ cup cream of coconut milk (see below on how to get this)
½ cup soymilk (plain or vanilla)
½ package of silken tofu – 6 to 7 ounces
½ cup agave nectar or brown rice syrup
2 tbsps. matcha powder
Put a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours, but it hardens better overnight. The cream rises to the top of the can, so do not shake the can when you take it out. Open the can with a standard can opener and spoon out the cream into a measuring cup. The remaining items freeze nicely and can be saved to use in other recipes. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until everything is incorporate and smooth (usually about 3-5 minutes). Put back in the refrigerator until the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit (assuming everything you use came out of the freezer this only takes about 3 hours). The matcha may separate if you leave this overnight in the refrigerator, just lightly whisk by hand before pouring into your ice cream maker. If you want, add by hand ½ tbsps. vanilla extract and 1-2 tbsps. mint extract based on your preference, just before pouring into the machine. About 10-15 minutes into churning you can add ½ cup of your favorite chocolate chips.

This is just one of several ways to add matcha into your routine, even if the drink is not your thing. What do you like to add matcha too?

Matcha Ice Cream is Served

Matcha Ice Cream (With and Without Mint and Chocolate Chips)

Japanese Tea Culture

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Japan on business.  It was only for two weeks but I dare say it changed me, far more than any other foreign travel had to date.  Perhaps it was the right time in my life or perhaps it was being a bit overwhelmed traveling solo throughout Tokyo and Kyoto.  Either way, by the end of the trip I found myself a full on tea convert who loved sushi; very big changes in my life, which set the stage for me to look at Japanese tea culture a bit more closely.

Very old painting of Emperor Saga of Japan.

Emperor Saga of Japan (9th Century)

Tea made its way to Japan via cultural exchange back in the 9th century through religious interactions with China.  According to legend, tea was brought to Japan by a Buddhist monk who traveled to China and on returning home served it to Emperor Saga.  For his part Emperor Saga enjoyed tea enough that he supported the initial cultivation of tea plants in Japan even though it didn’t spread widely at the time.

Japanese tea culture really started to take shape in the 12th century.  At this time China had developed a new process which was better suited to the storage and transport of tea without it rotting.  This new process involved steaming, grinding and forming cakes of powdered tea.  One would then break a bit off the cake to make tea.  Another visiting Buddhist monk, Eisai, traveled to China and brought back the powdered tea, seeds, and knowledge to support the preparation of the powered tea.  Eisai is credited with the introduction of the tencha style of tea preparation, where hot water was added to the powdered tea, or matcha, and whipped into a thick froth.  Integration with religious ritual and adoption by ruling classes drove the import of more tea plants from China and cultivation expanded further.

Photo of frothy green tea made by whisking powdered tea and water.

Green Tea Matcha and Whisk by Kefisreal

Over time, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, also known as The Way of Tea, chanoyu, chadō, or sadō, developed as a distinct ritual.  Initially developed and performed by Buddhist monks, the ceremony has historically been performed by men.  According to Etsuko Kato, author of The Tea Ceremony and Women’s Empowerment in Modern Japan, starting in the 20th century, wealthy women and doctors began learning about tea and practicing the ritual, and today about half of those practicing chadō are middle class women and housewives  (Spinks, 2012)

It was around the 13th century that the game of tōcha developed, in which participants would taste teas and try to guess the region from which it came.  Held in a kissa-no-tei and hosted by a teishu, or tea gathering host, it was a betting game with the winners receiving luxurious prizes.  While tōcha started out as a game for elites, it ultimately helped spread tea gatherings across Japan.  (Greater Victoria Gallery of Art, 2014)

Photograph of Japanese Coffee House

Kissaten or Japanese Coffee House by Flickr user Melanie M

Finally, beginning in the late 1800’s, coffee began making inroads into Japan.  (Kuniko, 2002)  Today, there is much less observation of ritual as many in Japan, as in other countries, seem to have shifted toward a faster pace with more coffee.  Where tea and the associated ritual that comes with it used to sit one now finds the kissaten, or coffee houses, favored for the relaxed atmosphere and light fare, and more recently chains like Starbucks throughout.

Despite the increase in coffee however, tea continues to have immense popularity in Japan.  Almost all domestic production is consumed within Japan as loose leaf, matcha, bottled ready-to-drink teas, or other tea products.  In fact, a recent resurgence in popularity for matcha has even resulted in its importation from China.

What’s your take?  Have you been to Japan or are you from there?  Have you noticed any particularly interesting changes in the culture and ritual of modern Japanese Tea Culture?

Works Cited

Greater Victoria Gallery of Art. (2014, March 20). Tocha: A Game of Tea. Retrieved from Tea: A Journey: http://tea.aggv.ca/teachers-activities-tocha.asp

Kuniko, S. (2002, March 15). Coffee Shop Culture. Retrieved from Nipponia: http://web-japan.org/nipponia/nipponia20/en/topic/index.html

Spinks, R. (2012, April 28). Steeped in Tradition: Japanese Women and the Modern Tea Ceremony. Retrieved from ecosalon: http://ecosalon.com/steeped-in-tradition-japanese-women-and-the-modern-tea-ceremony/