FLAVOR / Out & About
EDITED BY LYNDA BALSLEV
Marinites love a cup of joe, and
the county has an abundance
of coffeehouses and baristas —
but what about tea? Tea can be
equally stimulating and delicious,
with nutrient-rich leaves that benefit body, mind and spirit. So for
all tea lovers out there, or those
who crave a New Year’s break
from daily coffee, here are local
spots to sip a different brew.
CROWN AND CRUMPE T A classic
tea salon with a splash of cheekiness, this San Francisco spot is
owned by Marinites Amy and
Christopher Dean, who provide
a vibrant and stylish setting for
afternoon tea and private parties.
1746 Post Street, San Francisco,
KE Y TEA HOUSE AND KAVA
LOUNGE Key Tea is a plant-centric
place to savor locally grown tea,
kava, kombucha on tap, chocolate,
and house-made organic and vegan
treats, along with weekly community gatherings. 921 C Street,
San Rafael, keyteahouse.com
TEA FOUNTAIN An award-winning
one-stop shop with more than 350
varieties of naturally grown and
fairly traded loose gourmet and
artisan teas from around the world,
as well as tea accessories and gifts.
363 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley,
WU WEI TEA TEMPLE
A full-service teahouse and kava bar
featuring organic bone broth, house-made healing elixirs and Middle
Eastern bites, with weekly live music,
tarot readings and performances.
1820 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard,
2 cups filtered water
2 to 3 ice cubes
½ medium avocado
2 tablespoons tocotrienol powder from rice bran
2 teaspoon matcha powder
1 teaspoon wheat/barley grass powder
A few drops stevia or raw honey, to taste
Optional: 1 tablespoon flax oil
Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
MM: What is matcha?
EG: Just green tea. But a special one: instead of
steeped as whole leaves, the way you would prepare
teabags or loose leaves in a pot, matcha is ground
very finely on traditional granite wheels until it
looks and feels like green cocoa. You then whisk it
up in water (hot or cold) and sip it. It’s heaven when
the quality is good.
MM: How did you become interested in it?
EG: I first drank it with an old Zen teacher of mine,
Joshu Sasaki, back in 1981. I started studying
Japanese just so I could talk with him. I wound
up majoring in Japanese literature in college and
moving to Kyoto, where many of my friends were
studying tea ceremony and needed guinea pigs to
practice on. It felt like it gave me superpowers, so I
kept going down the giant green rabbit hole — just
delightful in every way.
MM: What is the biggest misconception
EG: That you have to drink it as a latte, which is not so
about the drink?
irrational given the quality of most matcha out there
in the marketplace — you need fat and sugar to basi-
cally make a milkshake out of it to make it palatable.
But the good stuff is basically just espresso shots, no
additions. Great matcha is a lot like great wine — the
complexities and nuances give so much pleasure.
Except you not only don’t get drowsy, you get increas-
ingly awake, without the jitters of, say, coffee.
MM: What distinguishes high-quality
EG: The five holy grails of great matcha are aroma —
it should smell enticing and ultra-fresh, with strong
notes of cacao; color — the more garishly freaky
green the better (yellow tones are bad); umami
[savoriness], the more the better; frothability —
you’re after puffy whorls of crema; and finish — the
longer you taste it after you swallow it, the better.
Some matchas can finish for minutes at a time.
MM: What is your favorite way to consume it?
EG: Straight up, extra thick, 165 degrees Fahrenheit
water, whisked with an electric handheld milk
foamer. For my cold brew, I occasionally add some
collagen powder for my creaky knees.
MM: Any favorite Marin haunts that serve up
EG: Yes, M. H. Bread and Butter in San Anselmo. They
a good cup of matcha?
make a terrific cold brew there; also the matcha affog-
ato with Posie ice cream — it’s quite dreamy.
Eric Gower discusses an obsession.
Eric Gower is passionate about matcha. The former
San Francisco Chronicle food columnist found his calling
in Japan, where he lived and worked for 16 years as an
author, editor, private chef and cooking teacher. Now he
resides in San Anselmo, where he founded Breakaway
Matcha, which has been sourcing and distributing the
green goodness since 2010.
We can all do with a little beauty boost in the winter, and
this delicious smoothie from Neka Pasquale, founder
and president of Urban Remedy, is an elixir rich in
healthy fat, antioxidants and detoxifying chlorophyll.
Cold weather never felt (or looked) better.
MAKES 1 SERVING
Winter Remedy: Matcha Beauty Smoothie