Obsessed with Matcha Tea

“People just don’t know what Matcha is. They think it’s just another tea. There is a lot of education that has to be done.”

On July 30, ASNC and Mechanics’ Institute welcomed chef, writer, and tea connoisseur Eric Gower, founder of Breakaway Matcha, to share his passion for and expertise about the art and culture of enjoying Matcha tea. Eric educated guests on the plethora of culinary uses, distinctive characteristics, health benefits, and preparation of Matcha and offered a tasting of his artisanal cold brew tea and carrot cookies with Matcha crème.

Matcha History
Electric green and powerfully tasty, Matcha has invoked a deep fascination in the culture of this brew, which can be traced back to ancient monks in China and Japan who consumed Matcha to stay awake during meditation. The culture of Matcha evolved into an ornate art form as it was incorporated into elaborate tea ceremonies and rituals of Japanese aristocracy. Today, Matcha is widely enjoyed by people of all cultures, not just as a tea, but a contemporary ingredient for cooking. The passion for Matcha extends to Japanese tea farmers who, according to Eric, “are obsessed with creating this crazy tea.” The labor-intensive process of manually cultivating the tea leaves gives Matcha its distinguishing features: a savory umami taste that accompanies its vibrant hue, its ability to produce frothiness and creamy texture, and the finely ground leaves like cocoa powder that allow for full consumption of the leaves.

Matcha Health
Filled with antioxidants and amino acids, Matcha serves as a healthier alternative to coffee by delivering a sustained sense of focus and calmness while combating fatigue. In terms of health benefits, Matcha is known to relieve stress, boost immunity, improve metabolism, and fight cancer. Matcha is rich in antioxidants, which act as anti-inflammatory and antiviral agents in the body.

Matcha Tea Preparation
The traditional method of making Matcha with a bamboo whisk and shallow bowl can produce delicious Matcha with some practice, but Eric finds that creamier Matcha can be made with a small ceramic creamer and a handheld electric frother.

For cold brew, Eric suggests shaking up one gram of Matcha powder with 8 ounces of cold water and ice and then straining the liquid into a jar which can be chilled. For a hot brew, he advises pouring hot but not boiling water into the powder to prevent scorching of the leaves. Click here to view a video that will teach you how to make a perfect cup of Matcha!

Cooking with Matcha
Eric also shared some of his favorite Matcha kitchen tips that include adding Matcha powder into melted butter or salt to season chicken and infusing the Matcha in sweets that contain dairy or chocolate.

Click here for Eric's blog on cooking with Matcha, including a recipe for Matcha truffles.

How to store Matcha
The enemies of Matcha are heat, light, and air, Matcha must be kept cold in the refrigerator or even the freezer for longer term storage. Keeping Matcha cold prior to use is absolutely essential to fostering the tea’s taste, color, umami content, and health properties.

Audio: Listen to Eric Gower's Asia Society Northern California talk (1 hr., 14 min.)

To read an interview with Eric Gower on the Asia Blog, please click here.

For more on Eric Gower, Matcha, and Breakaway Matcha, click here