“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice very earnestly .
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
Blending white chocolate with green tea balances the cloying sugary quality of one with the bitterness of the other to become more than a sum of its parts. It’s a fine pair that works together perfectly. Sometimes it just takes a bit of sweetness—
a peerless moment.
The Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking matcha (抹茶), a special green tea. Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves. Several weeks before harvest the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight to slow the growth of the leaves and to force the production of amino acids which make the tea sweeter. The finest tea buds are hand picked, laid out flat to dry, then de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.
Matcha is now a common ingredient in sweets. It is used in castella (sponge cake), manjū (sweet dumpling), and monaka (adzuki bean jam sandwiched between cookies); as a topping for kakigori (shaved ice); mixed with milk and sugar as a drink; and mixed with salt and used to flavor tempura in a mixture known as matcha-jio. It is also used as flavouring in many Western-style chocolates, candy, and desserts, such as cakes and pastries (including Swiss rolls and cheesecake), cookies, pudding, mousse, and green tea ice cream. The Japanese snack Pocky has a matcha-flavoured version. Matcha may also be mixed into to other forms of tea. For example it is added to genmaicha to form what is called matcha-iri genmaicha (literally roasted brown rice and green tea with added matcha).
The use of matcha in modern drinks has also spread to North American cafés where, as in Japan, it has become integrated into lattes, iced drinks, milkshakes, and smoothies. A number of cafes have introduced lattes and iced drinks using matcha powder. It has also been incorporated into alcoholic beverages such as liqueurs.
Japanese Green Tea Chocolate-Almond Clusters
from Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh
- 3 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 2 teaspoons matcha
- 2 ounces unsalted, slivered almonds (about ¼ cup)
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Take care to avoid moisture while melting the chocolate or it will seize and break. Don’t put a cover on the pan: condensation could drip into the melting chocolate. Don’t melt chocolate on high heat: 110°F to 120°F works best. Stir gently with a spoon, avoiding splashing chocolate up onto the sides of the pan where it will burn. When it’s melted properly, the chocolate will flow easily from the spoon back into the pan.
Combine a little of the matcha with the melted white chocolate. Stir thoroughly to combine. Add the remaining matcha little at a time, stirring well before adding more.
Add the slivered almonds and mix. Use a spatula to scrape mounds of the chocolate-tea-nut mixture on a tray covered with parchment paper. Cool (2 hours), then peel the cookies away from the paper.
Store in a sealed container in a cool dark place for up to 3 weeks.
Serve with coffee or tea.