Although you might not have heard of it (or maybe you haven’t dared try it) matcha’s been making a name for itself on menus across Sydney. It’s a special type of green tea ground into a fine powder. It has a slightly higher caffeine content than regular green tea, but also contains more antioxidants. The taste is slightly bitter, so matcha is a popular flavouring to balance out sweet dishes, but it's also used in savoury ones. Matcha's also becoming more popular as a drink; you may have spotted it in latte form at your local cafe.
Have we piqued your curiosity? Here are the best spots in Sydney to try it.
T Totaler – Authentic Japanese matcha tea
For authentic Japanese matcha tea in its purest form, T Totaler in Newtown is the place. Owners Paul Sunderland and Amber Hudson have just started importing it from Japan, and they serve it in the traditional way. "It's a Japanese ceremonial tea," says Sunderland. "[We] add the tea to a pre-warmed cup, and add water at 70 degrees. Then we use a matcha whisk to create bubbles, which adds to the texture of the tea. Then you serve it with something sweet."
Chanoma Café – All things matcha
Japanese cafe Chanoma also serves matcha as it should be: straight up with a sweet on the side. But it also does all manner of matcha drinks, both hot and cold: lattes, cappuccinos, on ice, floats and frappes. The Oreo Matcha frappe is particularly good. There are matcha parfaits and soft serve as well.
1/501 George Street, Sydney
Devon on Danks – DMC, or Devon Matcha Cake
At Devon’s Danks Street outpost, you can try an indulgent, multi-layered matcha cake on its Devon by Night menu. "We decided to do an ice-cream cake with multiple textures and that looks good – the bright green is unmistakeable," says chef Zacharay Tan. The DMC starts with a layer of matcha cookie, followed by matcha parfait and matcha sponge. It's topped with a thin, crisp layer of matcha-spiked white chocolate and comes to the table with hot matcha sauce, which is poured over the cake upon serving. "It's a bit of theatre," says Tan.
2 Danks Street, Waterloo
Cafe Cre Asion – Matcha macarons
Cre Asion is best known for its macarons, which come in a range of traditional and more unusual flavours, including matcha. But its matcha menu extends far beyond the humble French confection: it serves matcha lattes, fondants, muffins and more.
21 Alberta Street, Surry Hills
The Rice Den – Hong Kong French toast with matcha powder
The Rice Den has created its own version of French toast, inspired by the childhoods of chefs Nelson Cheng and Roy Chan. The rich and custardy cinnamon-flavoured toast is injected with dulce de leche and topped with matcha mascarpone. “We used to eat it in the Chinese cafes in Hong Kong,” says Cheng. “[But] because it’s a dessert on the heavy side, pairing it with mascarpone matcha provided the right balance and created a new level of taste.”
30- 32 Chandos Street, St Leonards
Yayoi – Pork katsu with matcha salt
While most things matcha tend to be sweet, Yayoi mixes it with salt to create a savoury seasoning for its pork katsu dish. The matcha’s bitterness balances nicely with the unctuous crumbed and fried pork. Many chefs agree that matcha works well with salty, fatty meats, such as salmon and pork.
Shop 2 38-42 Bridge Street
One Tea Lounge & Grill – Matcha “baoger”
After making a name for itself with its ramen and rice burgers, One Tea Lounge introduced the matcha “baoger”. It’s a pillowy-soft matcha-infused steamed bun that encases your choice of Wagyu beef, braised pork rib, chicken teriyaki or miso tofu, as well as fresh vegetables, Sriracha and green-tea mayo. “It’s going back to my family heritage,” says owner David Yip, whose family has been importing matcha to Sydney for years. “I’d done ramen and rice burgers, but this was next in the story.”
72 York Street, Sydney
Sokyo – Matcha waffles
If it’s a twist on breakfast you’re after, Sokyo’s deviation from traditional waffles is worth checking out. They’re served with yuzu curd (similar in taste to a tart grapefruit curd), strawberry gel and vanilla crème fraiche, and taste unexpectedly fresh for such a decadent dish.
Level G, The Darling The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont