Matcha, matcha, matcha.
No, that’s not the exasperated whine of a Brady Bunch sibling, that’s the rallying cry of a legion of health-conscious green-tea enthusiasts. Clearly, this is no ordinary tea.
This finely ground Japanese green tea is crazy-versatile, and praised by chefs and bartenders alike for adding a boost of silky sweet vegetal flavor to any dish or drink. Bonus: Matcha also boasts a bevy of feel-good benefits and packs a killer one-two punch in the way of antioxidants and fiber. Booyah.
Matcha gets its name from the Japanese words ma, meaning powder, and cha, aka tea. It’s experienced a long, storied journey from 8th century Zen monasteries to a recent resurgence, popping up at local artisan coffeehouses — in the form of frothy green-tea lattes, of course. If you’re looking for a little extra perspective to go with your cuppa tea, the San Francisco Zen Center, Urasenke Chanoyu Center (NYC), and Issoan Tea Room (Portland, OR) all offer a variety of quiet group gatherings or a selection of hands-on classes to learn the traditional art of the Japanese tea ceremony or chanoyu. The performance ritual centers on the relationship between host and guest(s) … so your next tea party could take on a whole new meaning.
Optional tools: Chasen, a tulip-shaped whisk made of fine bamboo bristles — perfect for creating smooth, lump-free matcha; natsume, a small, lidded tea caddy; and chawan, a traditional tea bowl (we like these affordable handmade ones … shiny!).
Use it for: It’s more than just tea. Use it for cocktails (see the recipes below), pasta, desserts … it’s like looking at the world through green-colored glasses.
Bar Manager Kevin Diedrich, BDK Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco (coming soon)
1½ ounces blanco Tequila
½ ounce Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
¾ ounces lime juice
½ ounce togorashi syrup
½ ounce Combier triple sec
½ ounce egg whites
Togorashi syrup is made by combining 1 part agave syrup to ½ cup togorashi (Japanese chili peppers). Let sit for 24 hours and strain.
Matcha salt is made by combining 1 part matcha to ½ part kosher salt.
Directions: Shake, strain and pour in a coupe glass. Garnish with matcha salt.
Matcha Milk Punch
Bar Manager Kevin Diedrich
1½ ounces Avuá Cachaça
3 ounces cooled matcha milk
1 ounce honey syrup
Matcha milk is made by combining 1 teaspoon of matcha powder to 1 cup of hot milk.
Directions: Build in a Collins glass with cobbled ice. Garnish with mint sprig and matcha powder.