I would say that green tea is definitely an acquired taste. I suppose the same can be said for black tea and coffee and other bitter hot beverages. But I grew up drinking those and only came around to green tea slowly. I remember some awful cups of it served at mediocre Chinese restaurants in Toronto and I never saw the appeal. Then I received a gift of some lovely cherry-infused loose-leaf green tea from Harrods. I was skeptical that it would be any tastier than the grassy stuff I’d had in high school, but to my surprise, I found it much more to my palate. When I was sick one time in grad school, it was the only thing that eased my sore throat. After that, I was much more willing to give green tea a chance. It can still be hit or miss, though. I’ve had some awful green tea, and I’ve had some wonderful green tea. I suppose the same can be said for black tea and coffee and other bitter hot beverages!
I don’t remember when I heard of matcha green tea specifically, but I know it wasn’t more than a few years ago. It started to pop up everywhere and in everything, as these food trends do. I didn’t know at the time that matcha is tea used in the Japanese tea ceremonies. It’s a powdery substance made from grinding high-grade tea leaves very finely, and it has to be whisked very briskly into hot water to dissolve, traditionally with a bamboo brush. I only learned all of this last year when I went to purchase some matcha and discovered how expensive it is, although a little does go a long way. It put me in mind of one of the more astonishing books I’ve ever read, Memoirs of a Geisha, and I had to go back and re-read it again. As always, it drew me in so completely I could hardly put it down for two days.
This tea cake is actually another variation on my Almond Crusted Butter Cake. It’s such a wonderful base cake recipe that I find myself adapting it in my head all the time. And I thought that the light flavour of matcha would complement the almond very well. The light sage green swirl looked absolutely gorgeous when I cut into the bread, that’s for certain. It was really lovely on its own, but even better with a smear of butter overtop.