Gre e n
Matcha has become the darling
ingredient of pastry chefs who
infuse it into desserts.
By Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman
OVER THE PAST few years, the
term “green” has represented everything
from politics and the environment to
lifestyle choices. Meanwhile, pastry chefs
have taken to “green” in a different way—
through the use of matcha.
The National Culinary Review | January 2011
Hailing from Japan, matcha (a finely milled
green tea) is typically used in Japanese tea
ceremonies. However, once chefs discovered
its unique flavor, aroma, color and health
benefits, it became a must-have ingredient.
everywhere. I instantly fell in love with it,
for both drinking straight up and using in
cooking/baking,” says Marin County, Calif.-based Gower, a cooking teacher, private
chef and author of books such as The
Breakaway Japanese Kitchen (Kodansha
International, 2003) and The Breakaway
Cook (William Morrow, 2007).
Before chefs consider “going green,” realize
that culinary grade matcha is different from
drinking matcha. “Culinary matcha lacks
the one thing that makes a great drinking
matcha: umami. It also lacks sweetness,” says
Gower, who recommends chefs look for a
few things when purchasing culinary grade
matcha to use in desserts.
Eric Gower first learned about matcha
while living in Japan. “Matcha was
Not only did Gower find that matcha
enhanced desserts and baked goods, but
it also imparted great visual interest with its
deep saturated-green hues. “And, it's one of
the healthiest substances on the planet, rich
in antioxidants,” he says.
First, the tea should come from Japan.
“There are bulk Chinese and Taiwanese and
Korean matchas available now, but their
attempts to mechanize the labor-intensive
process of picking and processing the tea