What is the first thing that comes to mind when we mention Japanese sweets?
I assume that most of you would think of 抹茶(matcha) sweets.
Super foods have been popular worldwide for many years, and matcha is considered to be one of them.
Many celebrities accelerated its popularity by drinking different kinds of matcha flavored beverages and speaking publicly of it.
One of those celebrities, Madonna, claims that matcha flavored drinks help her perform better and enhance her concentration during her concerts.
Lady Gaga managed to quit smoking thanks to matcha, which helped her stay relaxed and calm thanks to its amazing features.
(Matcha is rich in caffeine but at the same time, it contains L-Theanine and GABA which helps us relax and ease fatigue)
I also heard the popularity of matcha was triggered by the cafe, named ‘MATCHA BAR’ in New York.
New Yorkers, who have a busy lifestyle, loved the new service offered by the ‘MATCHA BAR’ which helped them stay healthy and enjoy the new flavor.
This helped spread the word of matcha and make it popular in the rest of the world as well.
In Japan, matcha still enjoys great popularity.
Nowadays, we don’t have many opportunities to join traditional tea ceremonies so when it comes to matcha, we basically enjoy matcha desserts in the form of chocolates, cakes, cookies, puddings, breads, candies, etc.
Today, I’m going to introduce あまみや(Amamiya) which is a Japanese style cafe with many kinds of matcha desserts and delicious meals.
Amamiya is located on 上通(Kamitori, Kamitori-street) which is in the center of downtown Kumamoto.
When I was in university, I used to go there with my friends and enjoy talking and lovely sweets.
Walking up the staires and you’ll find the entrance.
There are many tables and there are about 50 seats.
Can you see the electrical kettle over there?
At Amamiya, they provide free water and ほうじ茶(Houji-cha, means Houji-tea which is roasted green tea) so you can take a cup from the shelf and serve drink by yourself.
Look at the menu!
There are so many kinds of dishes and desserts and I’m so sure that you’ll find it very difficult to choose one (or even two!).
Before sharing with you what we ordered, I’d like to explain about the difference between 緑茶(Ryoku-cha, means green tea) and 抹茶(matcha) since it’s interesting.
Usually, 煎茶(Sen-cha) means green tea which is reasonable and the most popular green tea here.
Sen-cha is grown exposing to strong sun light and let them grow well.
When L-Theanine, which is a kind of amino acid that green tea leaves originally have and contribute to rich flavor of green tea, is exposed to sun light, L-Theanine transforms into catechin which gives bitterness to tea and also is well known for antioxidant effect.
After picking up leaves, tea farmers steam them, soften them by nicely squeezing them (traditionally by hands) and making them dry.
On the other hand, matcha is made from 碾茶(Ten-cha) which is the same green tea leaves of Sen-cha but the process of making them is a bit different.
As I mentioned, L-Theanine changes to catechin when exposed to sun light so what they do is covering tea leaves at least 20 days before picking them and preventing them from being exposed to strong sun light directly so that L-Theanine remains in tea leaves and obtain less catechin and they can get nice and soft Ten-cha leaves.
After picking up leaves, tea farmers steam them and make them dried and grind finely with millstone, which means no squeezing for Ten-cha.
Because of the longer process and more time, matcha is more expensive than green tea.
L-Theanine are known to help us to relax and enhance concentration.
Both green tea and match are highly nutritious but when it comes to sweets, most of the time, they use matcha.
So the main difference in terms of nutritious is that green tea contains more catechin and matcha contains more L-Theanine.
Now, I’m going to show what we had.
This time, my friend and I went there for dinner.
I ordered 野菜カレーライス(means vegetable curry and rice) and she ordered 天丼(tendon, means a bowl of rice with tempura on top).
The curry was really nice and aromatic. The crunchiness of vegetable gave a really nice combination.
After finishing dinner, it was dessert time which is the most exciting part there.
I ordered matcha parfait and my friend ordered フルーツあんみつ(fruits anmitsu) which is a bowl of fruits, sweeten azuki beans and jelly with matcha syrup.
Everything was amazing and photogenic and we were just enjoying them.
The matcha softy and ice cream was creamy and nicely sweet and bitter.
I also enjoyed the 白玉(Shiratama) which is a kind of mochi(means rice cake).
Shiratama is easy to make so when I was a child, I used to make them with my mother and enjoyed with きなこ(kinako, means soy powder) and あんこ(anko, means sweet azuki bean paste).
I also made some in London for my friends and they loved them!
What you need is shiratama-powder, which is made from rice, and water and you can get the powder at supermarket.
If you want to enjoy delicious and aromatic matcha sweets, visit Amamiya.
It’ll give you the great moment to enjoy the food and Japanese sweets!
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