This recipe calls for Matcha (maccha), a high-quality grade of green tea with a long history of use as a ceremonial tea in China. In the late 12th century, Zen Buddhists introduced the tea to Japan, where it remains central to the traditional Japanese tea ceremony today.
Matcha is obtained by depriving tea plants (Camellia sinensis) of sunlight a few weeks before harvesting, which stimulates an increased production of L-theanine, a water-soluble amino acid with demonstrated antioxidant properties that also promotes relaxation by increasing alpha activity in the brain. This process also results in a tea with a more robust and sweeter flavor than other varieties of green tea. The leaves are then finely powdered. Because the restriction of sunlight causes the plant to manufacture more cholorphyl and the leaves are not permitted to ferment before processing, the product retains its bright, green color.
But...ice cream! Just look at the gorgeous color on these frozen globes of goodness! Sprinkle a little extra Matcha love on top and serve with a beautiful (and edible) flower for an extra special touch.
2 cups organic half-and-half
1 cup organic heavy cream
3/4 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons organic Matcha Tea powder
1 organic vanilla bean, split and scraped
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the half-and-half, cream and sugar. Carefully slice open the vanilla bean length-wise with a sharp knife and scrape all the yummy bean pulp bits into the pot. Now toss the empty bean pod in and stir. Turn the flame up to medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer (do not boil!), stirring frequently. At the point the mixtures reaches a simmer, remove the pan from heat and set aside to let the mixture cool for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and whisk in the Matcha powder until well blended. Place the saucepan in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight to "marry" all the flavors. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. When it reaches to semi-solid stage, transfer the mixture into a container with a lid and place in the freezer for an hour or two to harden. Serve and enjoy!