Matcha Madness

Matcha Madness

As a general food lover, I try to keep up on trends in the food world. And while there are many ways to keep on top of trends, there is a new monster rearing its head, sucking time and productivity from us all. This monster’s name is Pinterest. It seems so innocent at first, the idea of having a central location where you store all the things you like while perusing the wide, wide web. A friend once likened it to an online version of all those magazine pages you’ve ripped out and stuffed into a folder over the years.

But transferring your favorite things into a central location where you can also see other people’s favorite things can quickly spiral out of control. Hours can pass with you frantically pinning away, coveting dream kitchens, smooth linens, bright bangles, and gourmet grub. A Pinterest landing page can almost vibrate with trendiness, the pulse of what’s hot changing in mere minutes.

It was on Pinterest that I suddenly started seeing a bright green powder appearing, the word “matcha” accompanying every post. I was intrigued. Was this the new acai drink? Had coconut water been pushed off its pedestal? Did this powder signal the end for cookies baked inside other cookies?

Matcha, like many food trends (think spelt, quinoa, or kale), is an ingredient that has been around a long time but is just recently getting the glare of the spotlight. The powder is made of shade-grown Japanese tea leaves. The leaves are carefully grown in nitrogen-rich soil under canopies, hand-picked and stone ground. The quality and the process render it fairly expensive, and it is usually used for ceremonies. The green tea powder is whisked with a special bamboo whisk into hot water.

Like many fine and expensive things, there are different grades of matcha. Some is mixed with tea leaves, others use less than perfect leaves, and they can all vary in color. Some can be purchased pre-sweetened. Overall, it has a higher level of caffeine than many other green tea varieties and packs a KO punch in the antioxidant department.

The taste (and smell) of matcha is polarizing. I think you either love the earthy, bitterness of it or you don’t. Adding copious amounts of sugar and milk might help the cause, but no guarantees. Matcha can be blended into fruit smoothies and lattes, or added to a whole host of dishes. Let’s go over three ways to get a matcha fix.

Matcha Desserts:
Sprinkle a teaspoon of matcha into anything from a chocolate marble cake to vanilla matcha cupcakes with buttercream frosting. Matcha’s bitterness is tampered deliciously with powdered sugar in these matcha meringue kisses, and summer’s heat will soon have us craving  ice cream and frozen yogurt pops. And because dessert isn’t always sweet, try sprinkling a little green powder on popcorn after dinner.

Matcha Cocktails:
Shake up a tart yet sweet green tea gimlet, a  jade butterfly or even a matcha fizz. If you still haven’t found your perfect concoction, check out Hub Pages for everything from a matcha grasshopper to a matcha green Russian.

Matcha Savory:
Think about incorporating matcha even further into your diet and include it with dinner. Try this matcha roasted pork belly with chimichurri. Mix a teaspoon of matcha powder with two tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter and slather over salmon in this fish a la meuniere recipe. Last but not least, try this spicy chicken recipe, poached in matcha.

Tell me about your favorite way to use matcha!

The Chaser:

Just two more: matcha pancakes and vegan matcha almond cookies
Uh-oh. Mad Cow Disease has just been confirmed in a California dairy cow.
Victory? Big beer sales are down, but craft beer sales continue to rise, down with Bud Light!