A Food Lover's Encounter with Maccha in the Kitchen and a Look at Local Maccha Food Awesomeness
Why is it Green?
Why is it green? The first question I was asked when I presented my dessert at a dinner party. Historically green color in food isn’t the most appetizing element. Green can mean not ripe, not ready or new. An orange in your car turns a lovely shade of green after you forget about it for some time. There’s also drinking beer with green food dye in it when you’re nineteen, and the sinking feeling of regret the next day. (Both examples were not inspired by personal experience. Not even a little bit I swear). Some backstory: I’ve said before that my husband is the real cook in our family, and this is very true. I am a food lover on all accounts. I love eating it, learning about it, writing about it. I am curious and excited about food. But the honest truth is that if you look for me in the kitchen I will be there, but with a glass of wine sitting on our bar stool wafting the delicious smells coming from the stove. It’s not that I can’t prepare a meal, I have been known to do that. It’s just that my husband is the chef in our house. So you can understand that the question “why is it green” with the sideways glance comes with love, but also genuine concern from my brother’s skeptical eyes, spoon in hand.
Matcha (Maccha) is probably not a new word to you. Maccha in everything has been pretty standard lately. Numerous articles have been written about maccha and its claimed health benefits and high antioxidant levels. It’s not just artisan bakers and tea bars anymore. The term maccha is being thrown around at many major chains and advertised and sold in various drinks. Maccha, found in powder form, is refined green tea and is used traditionally in Japan as part of their Japanese tea ceremonies. The quality and grade of the maccha found in your drink may vary from a mimicked flavour to high quality organic powder like you could find in Japan depending on where you are shopping.
Local Maccha Food Awesomeness
Locally in Victoria B.C. there are a few maccha food experiences that have stood out for me. Fry’s Bakery is one of them. Fry’s has been pulling out some serious maccha food wizardry lately with matcha donuts, both matcha cream filled and matcha sugar coated, strawberry and matcha creme brioche tarts, matcha pain au chocolat, matcha pretzels, and their fun matcha knots. Seriously delicious stuff. I like that the maccha is not overpowering, and doesn’t take away from the tastiness of their pastries and donuts. I am a big fan of Fry’s and lucky for me they are a hop skip and a jump away from my house situated in lovely Vic West. Fry’s is a family run sourdough bakery that uses a wood-fired oven and in house stone mill to make their organic whole grain local product. Fry’s uses local Jagasilk for their maccha needs. Some pictures below of the ones I was able to try, I'm not always fast enough to Fry's- they sell out quickly!
Jagasilk is located in Nootka court and is a teabar and wholesaler who have been focusing on fresh milled maccha tea and tools since they opened their doors in 2005. Jagasilk also provides education at their tea academy. I popped in to Jagasilk and had their maccha latte paired with traditional Daifuku with Anko. The latte was beautifully presented and delicious. The baristas latte art was in top form and looked elegant with a green backdrop. The Daifuku was a real treat, and was a welcomed change from the usual sweet that you may buy with your latte. Daifuku is a traditional confection from Japan (Wagashi) with a sweetened red bean paste (anko) hiding inside. Anko is made from azuki beans. The outside is called mochi and is made of mochigome, a short grain glutinous rice that has been pounded into a paste and molded. The maccha in my latte was Kana and Yabukita by Takaki, 2015 from the Hoshinomura, Fukuoka region in Japan. This type of maccha was of the “owl” designation which is on the lowest end of maccha grade. Owl is economical and still represents good quality and flavour, an accessible option. There are three different grades at Jagasilk: Owl, Raven and Eagle which represents the lowest to highest grade respectively. My understanding is that at Jagasilk, a higher grade will be sweeter, smoother texture, more vibrant, and will have a fuller mouth feel versus a lower grade which would be more bitter, dry and more coarse. I kind of love that Jagasilk has gotten playful with their designations. Other maccha grades I have come across have just been represented by numbers. I mean honestly, who wouldn’t want to drink the Eagle Maccha? Eagles are pretty fantastic creatures, no wonder they are top maccha.
But Seriously, Why is it Green?
Back to my green dessert. I love dinner parties. I also love spontaneous Sunday potluck lunches with an ocean view on my friend’s property in Sooke. Both invites motivated to get me in the kitchen sans wine glass to figure out a dessert. I ended up with mason jars filled with maccha whip cream with local strawberries and blackberries from the Moss st. Market. The market’s strawberries were sourced from Littlest Acre Organic Farm at Haliburton Community Organic Farm and the blackberries from Elk lake farm. I also added to my bounty blackberries that we picked that day from my friend’s garden in Sooke. A few spoonfuls of maccha we had in our kitchen’s cupboard was enough to do the trick for that light green colour and maccha undertones. Into the handmade whip cream it went. So when I was asked, but seriously why is it green? And I replied “maccha” a smile of relief was followed by a deep spoon plunge and nod of approval. The most satisfying sound is the tap tap tap of the spoon hitting the bottom of the jar, don’t you think?
Below: my encounter with maccha in the kitchen
Below: Emily's famous apple pie pictured next to my matcha dessert at a recent dinner party. Truth- the pie wins. It wins every time. That pie is a winner.
Gratitude for fun, tasty, dinner parties, sunny Sundays spent eating, laughing and sharing with amazing friends and for local establishments and proprietors that make truly delicious products a stone’s throw from my home. As for me and Maccha, we work well together. Maccha I like you, you can stay. You can even say that we’re “a Match-a!" Groan...
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