Green tea has been around for a while, but matcha is still a relatively new addition to the foodie scene. It’s a special type of green tea made by grinding up the entire leaf, making it the most highly concentrated form you can get. Its health benefits are numerous – said to boost metabolism, immunity, energy and detoxification, as well as increase concentration and reduce stress.
Its strong bitter taste also lends itself well to sweet and savoury dishes. Plus, its fluorescent green pigment makes it a shoo-in for Instagram. Think of it as the Incredible Hulk of green tea - without the obvious anger management issues.
Here are some of the best green tea dishes in town, so you can make matcha ado about nothing (#sorrynotsorry).
Made with yuzu syrup, matcha powder, and white chocolate, the green tea latte at Operator 25 is one of the best in Melbourne. They also incorporate matcha into sweet breakfasts, like the matcha crumpets with poached pears, macerated berries, kaya sauce, fresh mango and lychee pearls. The crumpets are a rich forest green in colour and and spongy enough to soak up the sweet kaya sauce without losing their shape.
This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it café is hidden in Drewery Lane next to Melbourne Central. It offers wonderfully creamy matcha lattes as well as slices of Mille & B’s matcha adzuki crêpe cake. Constructed of 20 layers of delicate paper-thin crepes layered with vanilla pastry cream and sweetened adzuki beans, this cake is topped with white chocolate/matcha ganache and decorated with matcha crumble. They tend to sell out of it fast so go early in the day to be assured of your green tea fix.
If you want a sweet pick-me-up this summer, you can’t go past the matcha shake at Purple Peanuts. Mixed with chocolate, vanilla ice cream, and red beans, it’s not too bitter and not too bland. The matcha intensity is strong enough to satisfy green tea groupies, and the fridge also plays host to a whole range of pre-made matcha desserts like green tea chiffon cake.
Matcha madness has peaked at Baba Sus where you’ll find Hong Kong-style egg waffles filled with vanilla custard and served with berry compote, green tea ice cream and pistachio praline. The round puffs of waffle are bound together by a crisp base of baked batter, and the matcha lattes even come with foam designs for the latte-art lovers.
Drop everything: the matcha cronut is an actual thing that exists in this world. Made from the finely-ground powder of Matcha Maiden, this delicious monstrosity comes with strawberry sugar, strawberry jam, matcha cream filling and a matcha marshmallow. Get it at Rustica’s flagship bakery in Fitzroy, or venture down Guildford Lane to Rustica Canteen in the city.
Speaking of matcha pastries, Agathé Pâtisserie in South Melbourne is doing a green tea croissant filled with almond and red bean paste. Buttery, flaky and lurid green on the inside, it’s the perfect amalgamation of French and Japanese flavours. Plus, it virtually melts in your mouth in that croissant-specific, creamy-sweet way.
For the savoury matcha eaters, Mr Miyagi’s green tea soba noodle salad with konbu-infused salmon and sesame dressing is not only tasty, but also ridiculously good for you. The cold noodles are tangled with edamame and vegetables, and carry a subtle tang of green tea. They’re also packing about ten times more antioxidants than regular noodles, and look beautiful against the tender hunks of pink salmon.
The donuts here aren’t the donuts you grew up eating from the supermarket – take, for instance, the matcha and white chocolate donut. Filled with green tea custard, coated in sticky chocolate, and topped with biscuit crumbs, it’s a two-handed effort. There’s also a matcha and apple fizz drink on the menu that’s a revitalizing winner on hot summer days.
The matcha menu at Bibelot extends far beyond the humble latte. There’s an iced matcha, which comes slightly sweetened and poured over green tea gelato, with a wafer of black and white sesame tuille on the side. There’s also a matcha macaron filled with green tea buttercream and adzuki bean paste. But the real showstopper is the green tea ‘dome’, which combines green tea mousse, muscovado crème, black sesame brûlée, and red adzuki beans under a glossy green shell. Oh, and that green tea gelato is also for sale in a cone.
If you can’t go past soft serve when it comes to ice cream, Rice Workshop is your new favourite destination. Their green tea soft serve comes in green tea or charcoal flavoured waffle cones, and at just $2 it’s the cheapest hit of matcha around. There’s also green tea mochi to chomp on after a quick bowl of donburi.
If you’re a fan of matcha, cheesecake, and #cleaneating, Raw Trader needs to be on your radar. Their whole menu is organic, raw, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, and boasts two different types of green tea cheesecake. The first is for purists: a simple almond, date and walnut base sweetened with green tea and coconut nectar. The second incorporates vanilla cream and white chocolate to yield a rich, dense delight which remains resolutely dairy-free.
Need some more clean eats after that festive splurge? Check out our Fave 5 Clean Eating Cafes in Melbourne.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White for The Urban List