Sara Walker takes a look at the new range of Matcha teas from Pure Leaf and creates a delicious tea loaf recipe.
Although I’d heard of matcha tea, I only had the foggiest idea of what it was (herbal? green? Er…matchy matchy?), so I was interested to try these samples from Pure Leaf. Their blurb says, ‘Made from shade grown Japanese tea leaves, the new range from Pure Leaf is hand-picked from tea gardens in Kagoshima. The distinctive nature of matcha means that the leaves are finely ground, suspended in liquid to form a tea and then ingested, instead of brewed and discarded. Because the whole leaf is eaten, matcha delivers a much stronger potency than a regular cup of green tea.’ So now I know!
I like green tea and I love herbal tea (I sometimes find ordinary black tea a bit bitter), so I was looking forward to this. The first surprise was that the tea comes in sachets rather than bags, so doesn’t need brewing in the conventional way. Each individual sachet contains enough dried matcha to make one cup, and you just add boiling water. That means that it’s ideal for grabbing on the go, as you don’t need to add milk and can brew up wherever you like.
The recommended preparation method is to add the boiling water while whisking, which results in a smooth, frothy drink. I tried the preparation with and without whisking, and not whisking basically resulted in an inch of green sludge at the bottom of the cup! So whisk, whisk away.
I tried three varieties – plain, mint and ginger. The taste is that of a strong, green tea – not bitter like a black tea, but with a bit of a kick to it. I personally preferred the flavoured varieties, which were subtle rather than over powering. The ginger was a lovely, warming drink, and the mint would be nice chilled with ice and a few sprigs of fresh mint. All the options are organic, and Pure Leaf supports sustainable farming practices, sourcing tea leaves from Rainforest Alliance Certified tea estates.
Next, I decided to put the matcha through its paces by using it in a tea loaf. I make this fat-free fruit cake a lot, and usually use Earl Grey for the tea flavour. Matcha with ginger sounded like an excellent variation, though. This is an incredibly simple recipe, but you do need to start it the night before.
Matcha tea loaf recipe
What you’ll need:
- 350 dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants. You can add candied peel if you like it, but glace cherries don’t work very well.)
- 300m strong hot tea (I used matcha with ginger)
- 275g flour
- 200g sugar
- 1 large free-range egg
How to make the Matcha tea loaf
The night before, make up the matcha tea according to packet instructions then put the dried fruit in a bowl. Pour the tea over the fruit, give it a mix around and let it cool completely. Cover, and put in the fridge overnight.
When you’re ready to make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C. Then, measure out the dry ingredients into a large bowl and tip in the fruit. Add the egg, and work it all into a stiff batter (if it’s very dry, you can add a couple of tablespoons of either milk or orange juice).
Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin, and spoon in the batter.
Bake for about one to one and a half hours (check it occasionally to make sure it’s not getting too brown on top. If it is, cover it with greaseproof paper). It won’t rise dramatically as there’s no fat in the recipe, so check it’s cooked by pushing a skewer into the thickest part. The skewer should come out clean with no uncooked cake mixture sticking to it. When ready, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 to 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack and removing the paper.
I thought this recipe worked really well with matcha. The ginger was just a faint hint in the background, and wasn’t an overpowering taste at all, but added another depth of taste. The cake didn’t turn out green, either, which had been a bit of a worry!
I really liked the convenience and taste of these teas. At £8.99 for 12 sachets they seemed on the pricey side, but matcha tea is apparently expensive to produce and I liked the organic credentials of Pure Leaf. You can buy it at stores such as Morrisons, Ocado and Amazon.