All tagged Japanese green tea
These pancakes are shockingly easy to make and they pack a ton of matcha flavor. Gone are the days of tasteless matcha-flavored stuff! Did I mention they are dairy-free and low in sugar? I don’t like my pancake batter too sweet because you’re going to drizzle maple syrup on top anyway, right? The secret to fluffy pancakes every time is not a secret at all, my dear matcha loving friends! Whip egg whites to stiff peaks and fold gently into the batter and voila! Enjoy! Recipe right this way.
Machiko is known to have the distinctive aroma of sakura, cherry blossoms, and fukumidori was described to me as bitter but in a good way, which is not a priority for me when choosing green tea from Japan (umami is at the top of the list usually). Apparently, Japanese tea drinkers seem to enjoy bitterness in their green tea and I was curious to see what that was like. Read on to discover my tasting notes and thoughts.
My Japanese tea journey of discovery took me to the narrow, winding streets of Setagaya ward in Tokyo to what has been dubbed “the world’s first hand-drip green tea shop”, Tokyo Saryo.
Kyoto is one of those places where I get what I can only describe as a fizzy feeling of excitement, sheer happiness bubbling up for no apparent reason. It’s the texture of the linen door curtains I gently move to the side with my hand, the brightest pop of yellow of the beautifully fan-shaped gingko leaves, all the shades of fire coloring the Japanese maples, the sound of water trickling into a stone basin, the soft rustling of a paper-paneled sliding door, the perfume-y smell of the cedar wood soaking tub, tatami mats under my feet. Four years had gone by since last time. This time, tea was at the top of my list. Here’s what happened.
You can’t see me but I’m doing a little happy dance over here, because my trip to Japan is fast approaching!! I’ve never been to Japan in the wintertime and I’m super excited to visit again one of my favorite countries in the world. Cold weather means hot tea and comforting dishes and I will definitely be on the lookout for the best ochazuke, a Japanese tea and rice soup, basically the epitome of comfort food (but healthy). Usually, genmaicha and hojicha are the teas of choice but sencha and matcha can also be used. Today I’m testing out a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.
The original recipe for matcha poached eggs is attributed to the author of the cookbook The Breakaway Cook and founder of Breakaway Matcha, Eric Gower. I came across it after falling down an internet rabbit hole and being the curious squirrel that I am, I had to try it out and see what all the hype is about.
Last Saturday I attended the grand opening of Stonemill Matcha Cafe, the newest addition to the San Francisco tea scene. Keep reading if you’re curious about my first impressions and pictures. Right this way —>
Why do we love matcha so much? Personally, I love its color, sweetness, cocoa butter notes, hints of freshly cut grass (even better if there’s some umami taste), rich persistent foam and creamy mouthfeel. Honestly, I’ve been wanting to take it to the next level of tea geekness for a while. Unexpectedly, I found an intriguing method for matcha evaluation on the Kettl Tea blog (*). When I managed to find and get my hands on 2 single-cultivar matcha, the stars aligned. I had to compare them in a systematic way. The idea of “decoding” matcha is pretty exciting and I ended up learning more than I had ever expected to.
Some days, I find myself craving matcha. Does that ever happen to you? I crave the chawan in my hands, the powder on my fingers, the swoosh of the chasen, the pattern of the tiny bubbles on the surface and the aromas and texture and flavor. It’s irresistible. Some other days, I crave whatever edible and colorful pops up on my Instagram feed and that’s exactly what happened when my sister Chiara made her matcha madeleines dipped in white chocolate and those popped up on my feed… they’ve been on my mind ever since!
Affogato reminds me of Italy. A scoop of ice cream is "drowned" in a shot of espresso. A little guilty pleasure. Here I am deliberately switching espresso for matcha because the craft coffee movement is believed to be the predecessor of today’s high-quality tea industry, at least here in the United States. Thank you, craft coffee! I owe you one!The popularity of affogato lies in the combination of opposite flavors (bitter espresso VS sweet gelato) and different temperatures (hot espresso VS cold gelato). Opposites attract, we know that. Think of the many successful flavor combinations which rely on this principle, like sweet and salty (salted caramel, peanut butter and jelly, maple and bacon). It works.
I am sitting on a tatami mat. My legs start tingling but I barely notice it. My surroundings are so beautiful I can hardly perceive anything else. Outside the open screen windows there is a perfectly landscaped garden with stone lanterns and small stone bridges over a pond inhabited by black, orange and white koi. On the low table in front of me, a bowl of frothy matcha and a sweet rice treat. I am in Kyoto and I am never going to leave. Join me for a matcha tea tasting.
Whenever I enjoy tea, I need beautiful things around me. Flowers, for example. I've recently gathered my tasting notes for Gyokuro, also known as "jade dew" from Japan. When I think of Japanese art, the first thing that comes to mind are irises painted on a golden screen. Irises convey elegance and serenity. Now that we've set the mood, let's taste some tea!