The biggest problem with green tea ice cream, at least for someone trapped in Arizona, is finding decent green tea powder. Green tea powder, more appropriately called matcha, is the end product of carefully grinding down green tea leaves. As you can tell from the Wikipedia article, it is an involved process. Good matcha has a strong green tea taste without being overly bitter.
It was a trial to scour the “ethnic” markets of Arizona until I found a suitable source at a reasonable price. Our standby, Lee Lee, did not have green tea powder on any of the occasions we visited. Mekong faired no better but I will admit that I do not know my way around its narrow aisles. There could have been an entire section devoted to green tea powders and I simply did not recognize it as such.
Undaunted, our expedition pushed deeper into desperation. For only desperation could have led us too: Whole Foods. This is where I learned that matcha is apparently the most expensive substance on Earth because they tried to push a $50, 1 oz container of matcha on me. Unwilling to leave empty-handed I decided to spring for this stuff.
Do not make the same mistake. This is not matcha, this is matcha flavored powdered sugar. It is actually fairly tasty but it lacks the strength that real matcha possess. You can see the difference below:
The “sweet matcha” is the lighter outer ring, the real matcha is dark green stuff in the center. Using “science” I would suggest that real matcha is 2-3 times more potent then the colorful but ultimately weak sweet matcha. To get real matcha we had to drive out to Fujiya. They only had one brand but it turned out to be pretty good:
It might not have cute packaging but it had the kick I needed for this recipe.
The take home lesson here is that you should give serious thought to just ordering matcha online.
I used a hybrid recipe for my green tea and made a few modifications to the protocol. For the basic ratio I went with SteamyKitchen.com’s “Matcha White Chocolate Ice Cream” recipe but I omitted the chocolate and roughly doubled the amount of matcha. I combined Hair’s recipe with this one that I found online. Unlike most the ice cream I make, this is a custard base which means it is a bit more involved then adding cream to eggs and sugar.
Matcha Ice Cream Recipe:
Adapted from Jaden Hair and nameless Teavana corporate writer #366
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons matcha powder, sifted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1. Mix the cream, milk and salt in a double boiler. Bring to a low simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. I used a heavy saucepan but it would have been less stressful in a double boiler.
2. Whisk the yolks, matcha and sugar until mixed. Pour a thin stream of about 1/2 cup hot cream mixture into the yolk/sugar, mixing constantly. Pour the now tempered yolk mixture into the main cream mixture, stirring constantly.
3. Stir constantly on low heat until an instant read thermometer registers 180°F, it should be noticeably thicker at this point and will easily coat the back of a spoon. Do not let the mixture boil! Strain through a fine mesh and refrigerate.
4. Put it in the ice cream machine as per manufacturer instructions.
Additional Notes: I think most custards are not supposed to be heated past 170°F. In my experience this yields an ice cream that is not noticeably different than what you would get if you skip the heating step altogether. 180°F yields a ridiculously thick and smooth custard that justifies the additional effort.