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Americans are enjoying more green tea than ever before. Since green tea comes in many forms — including powders, leaves and bags — the ingredient is gaining ground in both home kitchens and restaurants alike. More and more restaurants are incorporating it into their recipes, from energy-boosting morning brews to desserts with exotic flair.
With its unique flavor, beautiful color and myriad health benefits, green tea is taking the food world by storm. Check out five ways that green tea is getting steeped (wink) into our food culture.
1. Café drinks
Yes, you could just order a simple green tea, but you’ll miss out on some health benefits and flavor if you do. One of the most popular ways to enjoy the drink in the morning is via a matcha latte, where your usual coffee is swapped out for green tea powder. Unlike green tea that you steep in a bag, matcha is unmatched in antioxidant benefits because it is highly concentrated. Made up of whole, stone-ground tea leaves, matcha provides more nutrients and vitamins than a standard green-tea bag. In fact, you’d need to drink about ten cups of brewed green tea to match the nutritional benefits of one cup of matcha green tea. Because it’s not diluted in any way, matcha also has a richer flavor than standard green tea, making for a full-bodied latte. If you’re looking for something with the caffeine kick of coffee (without the jittery side effects), try it the next time you need a steady stream of energy!
2. Breakfast foods
The flavor of green tea can be quite strong on its own, which can turn some people away from it. But mixed in with other familiar ingredients, the tea is much more of an enhancement, acting as a subtle flavoring agent that adds a little bit of depth to everyday dishes. To get your green-tea boost in the morning without drinking it, try mixing some matcha in with your morning oatmeal and sweeten it with a little honey. The honey will play off the grassy notes of the green tea, and the hearty oats will keep the flavor from being overwhelming. Another breakfast item getting the green tea treatment? French toast! Many brunch restaurants are adding this to their menus, giving the finished slices a little extra color and some extra nutrition to boot. Top it with with fresh berries, and you’ll be an antioxidant powerhouse!
Green-tea ice cream can be found in most ice cream shops these days, and for good reason. It’s mellow, smooth and has a cooling quality that people love. Restaurants have taken it one step farther by incorporating the soothing taste of green tea into other desserts, including macarons, cookies, pots de crème, even cake! The overall effect is a light ending to a big meal, satisfying the craving for something sweet without too much heaviness or extra sugar.
Nothing says happy hour like a great cocktail, and even better if it’s one that’s (a little bit) good for you. Cocktail programs are incorporating green tea into drinks to create depth and add earthy flavors. Many bars infuse simple syrup with the tea, which adds a crisp sweetness, or infuse the main spirit, like bourbon, to smooth out the mouthfeel of the completed cocktail. Others add it to existing classics for a new take, like combining green tea, gin and cucumber for a refreshed gin and tonic. Green tea adds an herbaceous note to drinks, complementing the brighter flavors within with a dry finish. It’s especially good in tropical, fruity cocktails to temper sweetness. Give it a try in a beverage that you normally find too sweet, and taste how the tea rounds out flavors, bringing the drink together in a new way.
5. Rubs and marinades
Green tea for dinner is just crazy enough to work. The earthiness found in the tea is magnified when used in dry rubs and marinades for grilled fish, or when used in a barbecue sauce for grilled ribs or chicken. The tea can calm the flavors of a spicy marinade or add a more tannic note to citrus marinades. When used as a rub, it creates a smoky crust that seals in the meat’s flavor for maximum juiciness. Look for green tea used in savory dishes the next time you’re out, and get ready to wake up your taste buds with a nuanced umami flavor.