Are you aware of the healthy, tasty treat from the far east?
For those of you who aren’t in the know, you may assume it’s some kind of dark mint or pistachio flavored treat. Nope! This is matcha, green tea ice cream. If ice cream makes you happy, or really, really happy, then get ready to celebrate this hybrid of health and tastiness. In the United States, it is pretty rare to find unless you are somewhere that has a large Asian, especially Japanese presence. While in Japan, green tea is a second only to vanilla in availability.
While it’s a little embarrassing that this made the news in Japan, even President Obama is known to enjoy some good matcha! There is a large variety of specific tastes of green tea when put into ice cream; it can be very sweet and creamy especially when aimed at children or westerners. Connoisseurs would be quick to point out that the best matcha ice cream is not too sweet, even a little bitter, giving a slightly earthy edge to this frozen delight.
Green tea is very well known for it’s properties which promote good health. It is a source of vitamin C, antioxidants, poly-phenols, etc.. You will not have to feel guilty about helping yourself to a second, third, or fourth serving of it, and your body will only thank you! If you are not near an Asian grocer or restaurant that serves it, your best bet may be to make it yourself.
If you intend to make it, you will have to get a good matcha / green tea powder. Don’t worry, it’s not so difficult to find, Japanese specialty stores or Asian grocers will almost definitely have it for sale. The recipe I’m regurgitating here only requires 2-3 tablespoons of the powder, so you’ll have a LOT left over to experiment with. The green tea powder is good for baking into cakes or other types of dessert and of course, drinking. This will make an authentic strong flavored green tea ice cream, which you will want to modify to your own tastes.
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 cup of heavy cream (>35% fat)
- ½ cup of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of matcha (green tea) powder
- A pinch of salt
- Some ice and ice water
- An ice cream maker
- The day before you plan to make it, store your ice-cream bowl in the freezer for at least 24 hours unless the manufacturer’s notes differ.
- The day after preparing the container, put a medium saucepan on medium heat, whisking in milk, cream and sugar until well mixed. Get the 3 tablespoons of green tea powder into the mix and stir constantly until dissolving all the powder. The mixture will turn a milky green. (Make sure there are no powder clumps!)
- When little bubbles start to form, turn off the heat. Immediately pour the mix into a bowl sitting in an ice bath. Let it cool for about 15 minutes. When cooled down, cover the bowl with your kitchen wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
- Now you can make the ice cream! Remove the mixture from the fridge and remove the ice-cream bowl from the freezer. Make sure you don’t remove the bowl from the freezer until right before churning the ice cream. Power on the ice cream maker and pour in the mix. Follow the directions for your machine to churn the ice cream. In 15 minutes or so, you will see it magically transform into awesomeness!
- The ice-cream should have reached a soft, ice-creamy texture. This is when you should stop and move the ice cream into a previously chilled container. Freeze it for at least 3-4 hours before serving, or over night if you’d like it to be firmer.
Now that you know what good matcha / green tea ice cream looks like and how to make it, there is little else for you to do but enjoy it! While here in Japan for school, I have been enjoying it many times a week! Here are some commercial products which are all about this unique, healthy treat.