Matcha Magic!

If there was one ingredient that dominated recipes on the internet in 2016, it was Matcha. Think of any recipe that you like, and there was a Matcha version of it being photographed and typed up for the web. Sadly, we in India were a bit left out, simply because it wasn’t available to us. Until now, that is. Yes, we are so excited to share that we have spent the last few weeks tasting and experimenting with three varieties of Matcha that have recently been introduced by SPRIG – Golden Matcha,Vitalising Redcha and Calming Blucha.

First things first – what is Matcha? It is the finely ground powder of green tea leaves. What sets Matcha apart is that roughly three weeks before the leaves are plucked, the plants are grown under a shade. It is this “shaded growth” that sets Matcha apart from green tea leaves or tea bags that are abundantly available. The calming and soothing effect of Matcha – that is where it comes from. Packed with antioxidants and disease fighting properties, Matcha definitely makes for a much healthier option for your morning cuppa or the notorious 4 pm craving.

Temperature, we’ve realized, is key to a good cup of Matcha. Our traditional “masala chai” tendencies lead us to boil water and milk for longer than required. For Matcha, you only need, hot, not boiling water. It’s only natural for the Matcha powder to clump up slightly, and most of it, you’ll notice will dissolve in the water, easily. Unlike tea leaves, Matcha powder does not need to be brewed.

Now that we’ve explored all the basics about Matcha, we have to share with you just how exciting it has been to drink, cook and bake with the three variants that the folks at SPRIG have introduced –

Golden Matcha
With its slightly savoury notes and pale golden hue, SPRIG’s Golden Matcha is the perfect replacement for the cup of coffee that gives you a sudden burst of energy. Why? Well, because it isn’t followed by an equally rapid drop in energy. Instead, what you get is a slow release of energy. You could even take it right before going to bed, without having to worry about being up all night, because of the slow release of caffeine.

Unlike abroad, where you have to buy culinary grade Matcha separately as opposed to the one usually consumed as tea, SPRIG’s range can be used interchangeably. Yes, you guessed it, we really did go to town experimenting with is as a flavour. Mixed with a natural sweetener and a combination of rolled oats, nuts and dried fruits, it lent the most delicate flavour to our homemade granola. But it was in the savoury department where we felt that it went for gold (you know all about our love for puns).

Just a dash of the Golden Matcha powder, added to a mixed-mushroom risotto, upped the umami quotient tremendously. There’s just something about it that seems to come alive when paired with Parmesan in the risotto! Next, we cooked up a main course version of “kedgeree”, a fish and eggs rendition of the desi khichdi, made popular by our former colonial rulers. Successfully infusing the water that cooked the rice with a bit of the Golden Matcha led us to believe that it was a natural fit for vegetable and chicken broths too.
In the dessert department, we were inspired by what the Americans call a yellow cake – a basic vanilla cake. Trust us, there was nothing “basic” about the cake by the time we were done with it! We added a few strands of saffron to it before topping it off with a rich, cream cheese frosting.

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Vitalising Redcha
With a subtle infusion of Hibiscus flower, SPRIG’s Vitalising Redcha has notes that we Indians are only too familiar with. Unlike the Golden Matcha, Redcha works well with cold water too. Which opens it up to a world of possibilities with fruit-infused lemonades and iced teas. Try berries or even mangoes when they are in season, with a sprinkling of mint leaves. The vibrant red colour of Redcha, coupled with its slightly tangy flavour, makes it a natural fit for smoothies. We used it just as you would a superfood – a sprinkling – and not as something that was giving only colour to our food.

In an ode to detox-retox, we even swapped out the cranberry juice from our trusty Cosmopolitan recipe and made a Redcha-Politan, instead! Girls night out, anyone?

The naturally fruity flavour of Redcha lends itself easily to desserts. We used the room temperature Redcha to dip Savoiardi biscuits in to make a Redcha-Misu! A light dusting of Redcha powder topped off this quirky spin on the classic Italian dessert. You know us, once we get started on experiments, there’s just no stopping us. Remember Tim Tab Grob? The coconut milk-based Thai dessert with ruby-like water chestnuts? We used the Redcha to make little jelly squares and popped some water chestnuts into each one just before placing them in the refrigerator to set. The result? It was like a burst of flavours and textures in the pandan leaf scented coconut milk! Perhaps the best version Tim Tab Grob we’ve ever tried, and trust us, we’ve had a few, including some flawless ones in Bangkok! Sticking with desserts, we discovered that a sprinkling of Redcha makes for an excellent inclusion in glazes and buttercream too.

Calming Blucha
This one’s a bit of a chameleon. Add a dash of lemon and you’ll notice it turn purple. Be rest assured that there are no crazy chemicals that make this happen, but the presence of Blue Pea or “Aparajita” extracts that give it this calming hue. An earthy flavour, much like the Redcha, this tastes great in both avatars – hot and cold!

The similarities don’t end there. The Blucha too, is a perfect match for anything on the sweeter side and drinks. Fruit infusions are a natural fit with this one, but we also loved adding some herbs to it.
Every once in a while, we like making a Chia Seed Bowl for breakfast, and a sprinkling of Blucha made for the most vibrant one we’ve ever made! We couldn’t help but add some edible flowers to top it off – just too pretty to skip.

Do you remember the cocktail Blue Lagoon? We made a Blucha version of it and then watched in amusement as our guests were mesmerized by the drink changing colours when we added lemon juice!

Our favourite experiment, though, was making fruit popsicles infused with Blucha. Kiwi fruit and berries add a wholesome touch to these treats. Remember the “2-ingredient Ice Cream” that took the internet by storm a few years ago? The one where you blend up frozen banana and a sweetener to make ice cream? We added some Blucha to it and the kids lapped it because they had never come across an ice cream that looked as vibrant as this one. We, on the other hand, were just happy to have served them an ice cream that looked fancier than anything in the market, and was packed with all things nutritious for them. A sprinkling of Blucha in our favourite ‘no-bake’ cheesecake recipe added a touch of earthiness – a perfect balance to the tartness of the cheesecake. The latter being a major hit at a family get together.

As you can tell, we’ve had our hands full with SPRIG’s variations of Matcha. Apart from sipping on it through the day, we’ve loved exploring it as an ingredient that adds flavour, depth and a wholesome touch to whatever we cooked. We like to think of these teas as the most zen ingredient in our pantry – akin to the after effect of doing yoga – something that leaves you feeling great, and looking the part too! Drop us a line once you’ve tried these teas, we’d love to swap notes on this one.

In case you want to stock up, here remember that APB food lovers get a special discount of SPRIG. Click through here and use ‘apbcookstudio’ on checkout to avail a special discount.