From ramen to grilled cheese, the micro-focus of restaurants in North America has been increasing, serving up the concept of a single item as a specialty. These single-serve restaurants are common in other countries around the world, from hawker stalls to taquerias, but the idea has been somewhat lost in the crowd of one-stop-shop mega menus that dominated chain concepts of yore.
Ingredient-driven menus based on trend items have a new entry point with the consumer fascination with tea green tea in particular. In Canada, Toronto may be hitting peak matcha saturation with a new cafe serving only green-tinged delights. Japanese tea company Tsujiri offers up o-matcha cappuccinos, cakes, sundaes and floats based on the 155 year old brands menu in Japan, China, Taiwan and Singapore. According to the website, Tsuji continues in the tradition of the brand founded in 1860 in Kyoto by Riemon Tsuji.
The new cafe isnt the only eatery seeing green in across the country it joins several stalwarts including an offshoot of Toronto favorite Uncle Tetsus Cheesecake: Uncle Tetsus Matcha Cafe, which opened in June 2015, serving matcha madeleines, soft serve and, naturally, cheesecake. In Vancouver, Basho Cafe has been serving up matcha flavored baked goods since 2014, such as cupcakes, cookies and white chocolate brownies.
Beyond the restaurant world, matcha maniacs tend to get a little obsessed: from tea tools being named as an interior design trend to matcha usurping kale from health and wellness trend lists for 2016. People who may think regular cookies are passé can now enjoy matcha Oreos, which can be crushed into a McDonalds Matcha McFlurry.
For purists, however, the last straw may be the introduction of vin au thé vert, or matcha wine. The collaboration between Tamba Wine and the Itohkyuemon tea store in Japan combines green tea powder with a white wine base. The matcha green tea white wine is part of the companys Yokan no Midori (Midnight Green) line, with a green tea liquor and Matcha Junmaishu with a sake base. Matcha lovers may want to start drowning their sorrows now.
Leslie Wu (March 30, 2016)