I’ve been learning about all sorts of things tea lately; did you know that matcha derives from the words mo cha, to grind tea, in Chinese, and that doing so was customary during the Song dynasty? The practice fell out of fashion in China afterwards, but has continued in Japan, where tea drinkers can whisk up a frothy cup of jade-green matcha from the finely milled powder of green tea leaves. And thanks to its being so refined, bakers and confectioners can make green-tinted treats with the powder as well.
I’ve had this recipe raring to go in my head for a while, as I waited for some sleepy Sunday to try it out. The matcha blended in perfectly with an otherwise ordinary pancake batter (made from 1 egg, 1 cup of flour and milk each, and 1 teaspoon each of sugar and baking powder, an easy-to-remember standby). It’s wise to combine it with the dry ingredients rather than the wet ones first, so as to mix in better. I’ve taken several shots at green tea flavored desserts before where this was not always done, and deep, seaweed-green lumps prevailed.
We all know that green tea is a great source of antioxidants. But when drinking matcha, or eating it as a baked good, you actually ingest the whole tea leaves, instead of just water steeped in them. Therefore, you take in about three times the nutritional benefits of regular brewed green tea. This includes the amino acid L-theanine, which is known to reduce stress and depression, as well as antioxidants to combat free radicals in your system. Also, matcha has a delightfully grassy, slightly bitter flavor that pairs well with sweetness. I added some more sugar to this pancake batter just to balance it out.
It didn’t seem quite appropriate to go with the usual suspects to top these pancakes with — maple syrup, maybe some berries or sliced bananas. A seriously strange-looking stack of pancakes demanded a fittingly offbeat garnish, and something creamy and white seemed about right for some contrast. So I poured a vanilla Ronnybrook yogurt drink over my stack, instead of syrup. And although they’re never in season in New York, but from across the world in New Zealand, the bright green kiwi fruit beckoned as a matchy-matchy topping for the matcha.
So there it was: green pancakes, and sorry, no ham. Happy as a clam I am.
Green Tea Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 grams (about 1/2 tsp) matcha powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup milk
butter for the pan
Combine the flour, baking powder, and matcha in a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar and whisk in the milk. Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients and continue to mix until there are no lumps.
Heat a griddle or fry pan over medium-high. Add a small amount of butter and spread it around the pan. Scoop a ladle of batter onto the pan and let cook on one side about 1-2 minutes, or until bubbles start to form. Flip and cook on opposite until golden-brown on both sides. Transfer to a serving plate and continue procedure with the rest of the batter.
Suggested toppings: vanilla yogurt drink (or kefir) and sliced kiwifruit.
(for about 2 servings)
1 cup flour: $0.30
1 egg: $0.30
1 cup milk: $0.45
2 oz. packet matcha: $1.00
1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp sugar: $0.25
Four brownie points: If you’re looking to wake up with a little boost, here’s one way. It’s not the only way to cram antioxidants into your early-morning diet — a pile of cooked greens could fulfill — but it’s certainly a change of pace for that chore. They say that green tea also helps you focus, and it does contain caffeine, too, so this might be like getting your cup of coffee (or tea) in solid form, too.
Four maple leaves: Do I get points for this being green-colored, at least? Sigh. The best matcha powder you can find is invariably imported from Japan, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to crush up your favorite green tea into a fine dust yourself, by the way. That said, the rest of the pancake batter is pretty sustainably sourced and easy to keep on hand all year: local eggs, milk and flour.