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I’ve seen “matcha” on store signs and the supermarket aisles. But until I got this slim but powerful book, I really didn’t understand. Kind of a tea? The word itself is Japanese and translates as “powdered tea.” It’s the leaves converted into powder form. You steep tea leaves, but you stir matcha.

This book explores the Japanese history of matcha including a discussion of the tea ceremony so central to Japanese culture. As part of the marketing campaign for matcha, you’ll find many touted benefits: prevention of cancer, promoting heart health, recovery for exercise, and antiaging. Is all that true? Well, it’s in the midst of being researched. It does provide high doses of catechines, a group of anti‑inflammatory antioxidants. It is possible that in time there will be conclusive evidence for health benefits. In the meantime, there are certainly culinary benefit.

Science aside, what can you do with matcha? Drink it, of course, and there is a Beverage chapter here. But there are also chapters for

  • Breakfasts
  • Snacks and Condiments
  • Soups and Sides
  • Main Dishes
  • Sweets
  • And, even, Beauty

In these dishes matcha is applied in modest amounts to give just the trace of tea flavors. A recipe for 8 pancakes has a tablespoon of the powder. A Cauliflower Soup with Matcha Mimosa uses just ¾ of a teaspoon. There are two teaspoons used in this creative Matcha Poached Chicken:

And just a teaspoon mixed with pistachios and breadcrumbs for this dynamic Trout with Matcha Pistachio Crumb Crust:

What is it like to cook these dishes? Suzi and I are about to stick our toe in and test. I imagine its an experience like using curry for the first time. It’s going to be a different flavor profile for sure, but I trust these recipes with their modest use of a most different flavor. I think we’re going to try that trout first. Although, although, there is a Matcha Lime Yogurt and Caramelized Pineapple!

Matcha beauty ideas? There is a face mask, body scrub, and bath powder. You can sit in the tub soaking in matcha and sip it as well!