Aside from its flavor, matcha also offers health benefits; it’s rich in a rare amino acid called L-Theanine, which helps promote relaxation in our brains. Compared to other common types of tea, matcha contains up to five times the amount of this amino acid, which makes it such a stand-out ingredient.
With matcha having so many good qualities, there’s no reason not to enjoy this ‘super tea’. If you’re someone who’s a matcha lover, or even if you’re someone who’s not too familiar with it yet, you’ll be glad to know that there are so many ways to enjoy matcha that you’re guaranteed to find a way to enjoy matcha that will suit your tastes.
If you don’t have a bowl of matcha sitting around at home, perhaps the most accessible way to enjoy it is through the variety of matcha flavored Japanese snacks. The matcha snacks that are made in Japan often come in packs or boxes to make them easy to eat and they are also reasonably priced, so you won’t have to spend a fortune to try what matcha tastes like.
Although there are many different Japanese brands that have come up with their version of matcha snacks, perhaps the most popular examples we can give for this are snacks like matcha Kitkats and matcha Pocky. Both the matcha Kitkats and matcha Pocky are staples at any Japanese grocery store or souvenir shop, so this is a good introduction to those who have never had anything matcha flavored.
For these types of chocolate-based snacks, the fine powder of uji matcha (a special type of matcha that originates from Kyoto’s Uji region) is blended with white chocolate. The bitterness of the matcha powder helps complement the sweetness that comes from the white chocolate in order to create a fully balanced flavor.
Now that we’ve established why sweet things go so well with the flavor of matcha, another example that makes good use of this is matcha desserts. One of our favorites for this category is matcha ice cream. If there’s a Japanese store that sells soft-serve ice cream, there’s a good chance that they have matcha-flavored soft-serve. The creaminess of the ice cream enhances the flavor of the matcha, and even though as a tea it’s usually consumed hot, these desserts offer a delicious way to enjoy matcha cold.
Bakeries in Japan also sometimes sell matcha-flavored cakes. There are different ways to use matcha when making cakes; it can be mixed with the flour to give the cake subtle matcha flavors, or it can be mixed into the icing or the cream layered into the cake, or the matcha powder can even be dusted on top of a cake to finish it off.
Wagashi are different from the usual Japanese snacks or sweets that you might be thinking of. They’re traditional Japanese sweets that are often small and easy to eat, and they’re made with ingredients that are popular in Japan, such as rice and sweet bean paste.
For matcha flavored wagashi, our personal recommendation is matcha mochi. The filling of this soft, ball-shaped rice cake is filled with a paste flavored with matcha, and in some cases, the mixture used for the outer portion of the mochi is also combined with matcha, giving it a nice, deep green color.
Since the traditional way of consuming matcha is to drink matcha, there are plenty of delicious drinks that use this wonderful ingredient.
For example, there are cafes all over Japan that take menu items that are often made using coffee and replace them with matcha instead. Matcha works really well for drinks that use sugar and cream like frappuccinos, while there’s also another popular option in the form of a matcha latte. Matcha lattes have a distinct rich flavor to them, and as a plus, you can often find them topped with a beautiful latte art pattern.
Of course, while there are hundreds of variations in matcha-flavored items, there’s something special in enjoying matcha the old classic way: by having it as a tea. Even though you don’t have to be a tea master to successfully prepare matcha for yourself, it helps to know a little bit more about that powder you’re mixing with your hot water.
There are actually different grades of matcha that affect its price and how it’s used. The first grade is culinary grade matcha. In terms of price point, this is the cheapest option ($15 to $40 for 100 grams). As the name implies, it is used mostly for cooking or mixing with food and drinks like smoothies. Its taste is slightly bitter due to its production method.
Next is premium grade matcha. Typically priced at $50 to $80 for 100 grams. Premium grade uses young green tea leaves which gives it a more fresh and subtler flavor. This is the type of matcha you would normally use to make yourself a cup of tea. Traditionally, a bamboo whisk is used to help with the flavors and also give it those small, foamy bubbles that good matcha is known for.
Last but certainly not the least is ceremonial grade matcha. The quality of this matcha is said to be at the level that makes it suitable for formal tea ceremonies and in Buddhist temples, which makes it quite special. Its price point is set around $100 to $140 for 100 grams.
Now that you know a little bit more about all the different ways that matcha is used, there’s no excuse not to find your own way of enjoying the wonderful tea that is matcha.
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