There's green tea, and then there's matcha, a green tea powder made from whole ground tea leaves from Japan. (About 20 to 30 days before harvesting the leaves, they are shaded from direct sunlight. This boosts the plant's levels of chlorophyll and gives the leaves their signature, deep green hue.) Eating the ground, high-quality tea leaves — as opposed to steeping the leaves, like in other teas — yields matcha's potent, earthy flavor and high caffeine content. It's more popular than ever, and we're seeing more chefs and artisans incorporate matcha in certain dishes and drinks.
We're also seeing an influx of restaurants and dedicated cafes offering matcha service around town, including matcha Box on 3rd Street and the upcoming Shuhari on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
If you're looking for matcha ice cream, Sweet Rose Creamery and Coolhaus both have delicious options. And we've got a few more out-of-the-box ways to enjoy matcha.
Macho Matcha Man -- E.P. & L.P.: Bartender Adam Nystrom has put together a fantastic shochu sour cocktail made with matcha, Asian pear, lemon and egg white that's perfect for sipping at the bar or pairing with all the vibrant flavors in Louis Tikaram's food. It's a tiny bit sweet and a little tangy, but the overall drink is entirely smooth. 603 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 855-9955, www.eplosangeles.com.
Matcha tiramisu -- Roku: Top off your teppanyaki experience with alternating layers of matcha sponge cake and mousse in the tiramisu at Roku on Sunset. It's finished with fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce and served a la mode — that's with a side of green tea ice cream, of course. 9201 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 278-2060, www.innovativedining.com/restaurants/roku.
Matcha chicken liver mousse -- Cannibal: This new Culver City butchery and restaurant may be the first place you've ever willingly ordered up a green meat paté, but they've got a matcha chicken liver mousse that is sublime. The earthy notes of the matcha do well to round out the gaminess of the liver, and it's topped off with roasted plums, extra virgin olive oil and granola for some fullness and texture. 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-2783, www.thecanniballa.com.
Matcha Toast -- American Tea Room: This downtown tea room is taking part in the current toast craze, covering a slice of brioche with matcha butter, honey and Marcona almonds for a perfect snack -- which you can wash down with more matcha. Try the ceremonial grade matcha service or the chilled Green Tea Tereré drink, in which Bliss green and white tea, lime and orange juice are combined with a sweet matcha for a refreshing summer quencher. 909 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 239-9100, www.americantearoom.com/pages/los-angeles.
Matcha budino -- Hamasaku: You haven't really completed your meal at Hamasaku without ordering the matcha budino. Inspired by the butterscotch version across town, this budino is none too sweet and even a tiny bit bitter, so you can actually taste the matcha in every creamy bite. 11043 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 479-7636, www.hamasakula.com.
Sweet sandwiches -- Valerie Confections: The matcha petit fours at Valerie Confections have always been a favorite, but the bakery/restaurant also has a limited, collaborative release of matcha sandwiches with Commune. Matcha white chocolate sits between two almond and toasted brown rice cookies before the cookie is dipped in darkened milk chocolate and topped off with soy salt. For matcha lovers with a more formal occasion in mind, Valerie has just launched a brand-new wedding catalog with a matcha flavor fancy cake available. 3360 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, (213) 739-8149, www.valerieconfections.com.
Matcha doughnut -- Donut Farm: The vegan, certified organic doughnuts at this San Francisco import are all delicious, and their matcha cake doughnut is no exception. It's got flavor both in the dough, and in the glaze, for a perfectly dense, barely sweet doughnut. 2609 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 788-7549.
Matcha concha -- Winsome: This photogenic daytime spot (with dinner coming soon) has a great house-made matcha version of the quintessential Mexican pan dulce with its semi-sweet, outer shell. Made fresh every day, this pastry gives off just the right hint of the powdered green tea and is best enjoyed with your espresso drink of choice. 1115 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 415-1818, www.eatwinsome.com.