In August, my dear friend Rika and her family visited from Japan. They live in Mihama, a tiny fishing village on the west coast, a couple of hours by train from Kyoto. Though Rika had been to visit us years before, this was the first trip to the US for her husband and three children, and it was the highlight of our summer.
After a whirlwind of sightseeing in Boston and an all-too-brief stay in Rhode Island, they went on to see a bit more of America, leaving behind memories, photos, and green tea — in tea bags! — which I promptly added to The Perfect Pantry.
I'm not a green tea drinker, though I'll never forget the tea ceremony made in our honor on our first trip to Japan twenty years ago. (Hmmm, maybe that's the problem. I remember the tea ceremony, the "chewy" texture of the tea, and I associate that with all green tea. In fact, though, the tea ceremony is usually made with matcha, a powdered green tea.)
I do know that green tea (tea leaves that have been steamed and dried without fermenting) is packed with the antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), said to be a powerful protection against cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Drinking green tea also can: lower high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol; help boost the immune system; and aid in weight loss.
Wow....if I can't manage to drink it, I'm sure going to learn to cook with it.
For starters, I'll start with savory dishes like shrimp with green tea leaves and honey garlic green tea shrimp, and maybe some green tea dumplings. For dessert, green tea cheesecake sounds delicious, and has an interesting hue.
I feel healthy already.
Honey and lemon green tea cupcakes
From the National Honey Board's web site. Makes 12-14 cupcakes.
1 green tea bag
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Zest and juice (1/4 cup) of one lemon
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour boiling water over tea bag and steep for 3 minutes. Remove tea bag and allow tea to cool.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a liquid measure, combine green tea, lemon zest and juice, and buttermilk; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add honey; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time. Add half of the reserved dry ingredients to the butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. With mixer running on low, slowly add the lemon tea mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack; cool.
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