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Taking tea with Matcha by Mei

Georgia East

The Pantone colour of the year for 2017 is Greenery – a shade not far off from the distinctly verdant hue of matcha. What's this strangely named superfood about? Matcha is a green tea in finely powdered form, used in just about everything from detox drinks to decadent delights. About as high in wow-factor on Instagram as it is in antioxidants, matcha has steeped into the food scene internationally and locally. Embracing the revival of this ancient tea while making sure it comes packaged for a modern generation is Matcha by Mei – a small independent retailer that's introducing stone-ground matcha powder not only as a healthy daily drink, but also as a fundamental ingredient in the modern cook’s pantry. Matcha by Mei’s creator Samantha Ahhee was all for indoctrinating herself into the Japanese culture of tea-drinking after a trip to the country turned her coffee obsession into matcha mania. She discovered that the good green stuff had what it took to keep her going but without all those uncomfortable caffeine-induced jitters. Cape Town-based Samantha's website retails a selection of culinary and ceremonial-grade matcha as well as various utensils used in a traditional matcha tea ceremony – our favourites are the delicate bamboo chasen whisk or the clouded glass chawan bowl. Just a teaspoon of matcha can add sufficient boost to your morning smoothie, and we were all too eager to try it out with a simple smoothie bowl – perfect for the kind of breakfast you want to make quickly but eat slowly. And, because we’re all about living a balanced lifestyle, our second matcha recipe had to be a little sinful. Find them both below.

matcha smoothie bowl

Prep time: 10 minutes + 2h  freezing time if required / Cook time: 0 minutes For the matcha smoothie
  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
  • 2t natural honey
  • 1t ceremonial-grade matcha powder
  • 2 cups almond or soy milk
  • 1 ripe kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
  • 50ml toasted desiccated coconut
  • 25ml toasted flaked almonds
  • 10ml chia seeds (optional)
Place the frozen bananas, honey and matcha in a high-powered liquidiser or blender, top up with milk and blitz until smooth. Divide the smoothie mixture between two bowls and top with kiwi slices, toasted coconut, flaked almonds and chia seeds (if preferred). Serve immediately. SERVES 2

matcha layer cake with toasted coconut icing

Prep time: 30 minutes / Cook time: 45 minutes to 1h For the cake
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2t baking powder
  • ½t bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large T culinary-grade matcha powder
  • ¾ cup salted butter, softened
  • 1¾ cup (440ml) white granular sugar
  • ½ cup virgin coconut oil, softened
  • 2t vanilla extract
  • 4 large free-range eggs at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (190ml) coconut milk
  • ¾ cup (190ml) plain Greek yoghurt
For the icing
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1x250g tub full-fat plain creamed cheese
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut, lightly toasted
  • Sliced kiwi fruit, to garnish (optional)
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and coconut oil until creamy. Add the vanilla and eggs. Place the beater on low and, working in alternate batches, mix in the dry ingredients, coconut milk and yoghurt – beginning and finishing with the flour mixture – until well combined. Take care not to over mix. Divide the batter between two lined, greased cake pans and bake on separate racks for 45 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick poked into the top of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before you turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely. To make the icing, cream the butter with the cream cheese and the sugar. Add in the vanilla extract and coconut and beat thoroughly. Spread icing over the top of one cake layer before sandwiching the other over it. Ice the top of the cake and decorate with sliced kiwi fruit and a fine dusting of matcha powder. SERVES 8 Visit to purchase or learn more about this extraordinary superfood.