If, as the lifestyle pundits keep telling us, “Fifty is the new 40,” then it makes perfect sense to say that matcha tea is the new everwything. Wherever you look, there it is. In recipes for cookies, bread, candy, pastries, soup, meat dishes and salads, matcha is the modern additive of choice for health-conscious consumers.
At the bar, too, alcohol and non-alcohol drinks boast bursts of matcha, both hot and cold. Try reading any food publication without seeing at least one mention of matcha tea. It can’t be done. With all the cyber ink backing the chic leaf’s newfound stardom, is it possible that some matcha recipes have slipped through the cracks? The answer is a big, green “Yes.” Here are some of the unusual uses for matcha tea powder that you won’t see on cable TV cooking shows or on menus at major restaurants. Nevertheless, they are just as tasty and interesting as all the matcha munchies you’ve already come to know and love. Here are the recipes, with a short note about the origin of each.
Mongolian matcha with goat milk and salt
This traditional Mongolian drink has ancient roots and is usually translated to English as something like “salty milk tea.” It is the drink of choice in Mongolian homes and comes in hundreds of local variations. Sometimes, if millet is added, it has a soupy consistency. Fat and butter are other common ingredient add-ins, but the following recipe is the simple, most “tea-like” of the bunch:
To make one-half gallon, combine one quart of water with one quart of milk or buttermilk. Add one tablespoon of matcha tea powder and one teaspoon of salt. Bring everything to a boil in a large pot, being sure to stir frequently to thoroughly mix the diverse ingredients completely. Drink it the way they do in Mongolia, from large mugs as hot as you can stand it.
‘Smart’ coffee-matcha mix (aka “teafee”)
There’s been a popularity spike for teafee recently, at resorts and private clubs in Arizona and California. This old-fashioned drink has been around for decades but has never become a commercial or retail hit. Now, with talk that the L-theanine in matcha tea acts as a slow-down on caffeine in general, teafee is making a comeback of sorts. It is indeed, however, one of those drinks that people seem to either love or hate. Teafee aficionados say that the trick is using high-quality tea and coffee as a base, so make sure to break out the ceremonial-grade matcha tea and a really good brand of coffee. Here’s the recipe:
Prepare one quart of hot coffee and set it aside. Prepare one quart of matcha tea (use 3 teaspoons of powder) and let it cool to room temp. Mix the coffee and tea. If you want to drink it cold (the most common way to consume teafee), pour over ice and add sugar to taste. If you’d rather drink “winter blend” teafee, like the dust bowl farmers did during the Great Depression, reheat and add sugar to taste.
Muy matcha tea-quila Tokyo
This drink recipe is for adults only, as it contains alcohol. Tea-quila Tokyo is a newer name for an old drink. The fresh twist is using matcha tea instead of black. Bartenders are fond of repeating the urban legend that the matcha in the drink helps ward off hangovers. There’s no science to back up that claim but it probably helps sell a few more “muy matcha tea-quila Tokyos.” Thus:
Make 6 ounces of matcha tea using just one teaspoon of ceremonial-grade powder. Let the tea cool in a frig for a few minutes. Combine with 2 ounces of high-grade tequila, a twist of lime and 2 tablespoons of honey. Add ice. Drink. Repeat. Sleep.
Miraculous matcha beer
Matcha-flavored beer is taking Japan by storm, and is especially popular at upscale bars and resorts in Kyoto. There are even brand name beers in Japan that offer matcha-infused variations. They’re not cheap, but the good news is that you can make you own, preferably with a Japanese beer like Asahi. The “recipe” is utterly simple, but the key is preparing the matcha tea first, 6 ounces to be precise.
Use one teaspoon of powder and allow the tea to cool completely in the frig. Place the tea into a large glass or mug (16-ounce size is ideal) and add 6 ounces of beer. The chemical action between the alcohol and tea does the mixing for you, but a swirl or two with a straw helps. Most people are shocked at how good this tastes, so be ready to enjoy a truly light, refreshing beer made the Japanese way.
The world of matcha tea is fully prepared for the day when every conceivable recipe has been uncovered. There are already hundreds of other, non-food-and-drink uses for the amazing little leaf. It is routinely turning up in hair products, facial creams and masks, bath soaks, soaps, and cosmetics. Matcha tea is the earth’s way of showing its abundance, and it is indeed a gift that keeps on giving.