One of my very favorite places to go when I want to treat myself to a little bit of Zen is Samovar Tea Lounge in the Castro (does it help that ImagiKnit is right across the street? maybe…). I was recently there with the lovely Natalie, and we had delicious rice bowls, flaky scones and something I’ve never had before but totally blew me away: a matcha shake. I had seen iced green tea concoctions before and vaguely knew that Starbucks made a frappuccino version, but faced with an unfamiliar green brew versus my favorite iced mocha with whip? No contest. I didn’t know what I was missing. This thing was insane– creamy, sweet, grassy… I couldn’t get enough. As we were paying the bill I asked if they sold the matcha, or a mix to make the shakes at home. Another thing about Samovar– the waitstaff is always unfailingly kind, solicitous and soft-spoken, and to a man or woman looks you in the eye when waiting on you, something I realise when I experience it is very unusual. At any rate, our waiter apologetically explained that they don’t carry it in the store but I could get it online. I tripped away, determined to order some. When I finally got around to going to the website, I almost fell out of my chair– that matcha shake mix? It was $125!!!!! No wonder it was so delicious, it was gold in a cup.
Undaunted, I decided to recreate it on my own, but a little bit more budget-friendly. So I went to the bulk bins at the Berkeley Bowl and picked up 8oz of lovely green matcha powder, and a bag of palm sugar (which is what they use at Samovar for sweetener) and some coconut milk drink at Trader Joe’s (I think they use soy milk at Samovar).
1 tsp of matcha, 1T of palm crystals and 1 cup of coconut drink and a milk frother later and I’m declaring it a raging success.
Yum. Apparently matcha has all kinds of health benefits too, which makes me feel a little bit less guilty about trading my customary afternoon iced coffee for one of these from now on.