Matcha isn't just for Japanese teahouses anymore. The antioxidant-rich green tea, which is really a powder made from steamed and dried tea leaves, has been around for thousands of years. It's traditionally whisked in hot water and has an earthy flavor and a bright green color that's almost unnatural. But it is natural, and good for you, too, even if it's made into a donut glaze. From ceremonial tableside service in Brentwood steakhouses to creative cocktails in West Hollywood, the frothy, ultra-green green tea is popping up just about everywhere this summer. Here are some of the most unique uses around town right now.
Baltaire: It's not that a matcha tea service is particularly unusual, it's just that this swank Brentwood steakhouse puts its own twist on it. A self-described matcha obsessive, beverage director David Vaughn collaborated with Art of Teas master tea blender, Steve Schwartz, to create a special blend for this traditional tableside tea service. After dinner, a server wheels a cart over to carefully whisk and blend the green tea powder for each guest. It's relaxing to watch, and there's a good chance the tea's healthy attributes will balance out that bone-in rib-eye and lobster mac 'n' cheese you just ate.
Cafe Gratitude: Many tea drinkers are figuring out that matcha can be served cold. At the three local outposts of this vegan-happy spot, including the Venice, Larchmont and new Arts District locations, order the Vibrant a soothing, earthy cold brew of green tea, almond milk and honey.
Gracias Madre: Not only can matcha be served cold, but it can also be used in cocktails, as beverage man Jason Eisner found out. Eisner's matcha cocktail is a blend of tequila, matcha, coconut milk, toasted sesame-infused agave and tapioca pearls, which goes nicely with the vegan tacos, enchiladas and queso at the West Hollywood restaurant. Rustic Canyon: Pastry chef Jun Tan is consistently inspired by his childhood when crafting whimsical, farmers market-inspired desserts for the bustling Santa Monica restaurant. Right now, he's using sister shop Sweet Rose Creamery's seasonal ice creams and sorbets in his creations, like the green tea donut ice cream sandwich with Valrhona chocolate sauce.
Valerie: The confectioner's pretty petit fours are the perfect bite-size cake treats. The matcha petit four layers green tea cake with lemon verbena ganache and a white chocolate coating. The light green tinge makes it stand out from the others, although it's a perfect match for the rose-petal topped petit fours. Find it at all three Valerie locations in the Grand Central Market, in Echo Park and at the original Los Feliz bakery.
Republique: Does matcha lose its health benefits if it's turned into a glaze for Margarita Manzke's raised donuts? Who cares. The La Brea hot spot started serving these donuts as a special, and we really hope they make the regular rotation in the pastry case soon.
Scoops: Pop into the Westside or East Hollywood ice cream shop and there's a good chance the rotating menu will have something like the green tea and brown rice non-dairy treat on hand. Flavors change regularly, so call ahead if it's something you really want (or to find out when it will be made again).
Lesley Balla (July 8, 2015)