While the borders are still closed and flights are only happening for business travellers, it is food and wine that helps to satisfy my sense of exploration. Latest discovery? Matcha.
Matcha takes me to Japan and further East than I’ve ever been. My mode of travel is a slice of pistachio coloured macha cake from Creation Wines in Hemel-en-Aarde, Hermanus. With as many as 8 layers there is soft sponge, and wispy icing. For a minute I confused matcha with maté which is a brew of tea leaves sipped on during a visit to Buenos Aires in the early 2000s when I travelled to South America with my friend Ilse.
Back to matcha. In East Asia matcha was a central part of tea drinking ceremonies during zen rituals. This green tea is grown in the shade to produce more caffeine and theanine – a stress reducing amino acid found typically in green teas. After harvest the stems and veins of the tea leaves are removed and then dried before being stone ground. As with green teas, matcha is high in anti oxidants – a pleasing reminder as I calmly and guiltlessly made forkload after forkload disappear. The theanine doing its work already and diminishing my worries about lockdown weight gain!
The stress reducing theanine also adds savoury, umami flavours which every bite of matcha cake triggered. I explored the layered dessert loaded with delicate flavours. There was literally a cherry on top. Figuratively, the cherry on top was the delicate fragrance that I imagined similar to the finest tea plantations in Japan. Kon’nichiwa!