Matcha green tea cheesecake, a perfect Japanese-American marriage

  • Matcha green tea cheesecake at Dobrá Tea in Northampton GAZETTE STAFF/Lisa Spear

  • Matcha green tea cheesecake Lisa Spear—Staff Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/21/2017 3:40:07 PM

Editor’s note: In this monthly column writer Lisa Spear indulges her sweet tooth by sampling desserts made at area restaurants.

Matcha is simply tea, finely ground into a bright green powder, served hot or cold in a highly caffeinated beverage. It is a nice substitute for coffee in the morning, but now you can have it in cheesecake, too, at least at the teahouse Dobrá Tea on Main Street, Northampton, a place that re-imagines what it means to have teatime.

This green cheesecake sits in a walnut crust, with filling made from coconut milk and sweetened with dates and honey. On the menu it is listed as cheesecake with a “Z,” to let people know that this is not actually cheese. This is a dairy-free blend of coconut and cashew, but eating it, you probably would never notice that there is no cow’s milk involved. It’s a little bit lighter than a regular cheesecake, but it’s still sufficiently creamy, thick and silky smooth.

The $4 slices are small, but satisfying. The matcha, which comes from Kyoto, Japan, gives the cheesecake a subtle green tea flavor, almost as if you poached grass in butter. It sounds odd, but it’s pleasant. The crust is a little chewy with a soft crunch. The cheesecake is topped with a swirl of dark chocolate.

“It hits so many notes,” says Dyan Guarisco, teahouse manager. “…Matcha with chocolate is just delicious.”

The flavors are complemented with a cup of hot oolong. Even when sipping on a hot tea, the cake’s matcha flavor tends to linger in your mouth.

The ideal way, I think, to eat this cheesecake is lounging with your shoes off on a cushion in one of the teahouse’s Japanese-style seating areas.

There are also snacks on the menu like grape leaves hand-wrapped around spiced rice or honey dappled slices of apples and oranges, dusted with cinnamon and imbued with rose water. For other desserts, there are matcha “raw balls,” which are a mix of dates, almonds and coconut oil, dusted with matcha powder.

“When you eat it, your finger tips turn green,” says Guarisco.

The space is cozy, with oriental carpet and instrumental music from around the world. The teahouse has a thick menu filled with more than 100 varieties of loose leaf teas, each with a vivid description of where the teas are sourced from across the globe, like the famous “Huang Shan Mao Feng,” a green tea  from the mountains of Anhui Province in China or the Indian black tea plucked from the hills of the Himalayas.

Dobrá is less known for its desserts than its teas, so it is suiting that the green tea cheesecake is one of its most popular sweets. The shop sells up to 20 slices in a week.

In my opinion, cheesecake and matcha powder is the best possible marriage of Japanese and American food.

Co-owner, Alli Jukiro agrees. A few years ago, she asked the baker, Kim Small, who works across the street at the Haymarket Café, to create a matcha green tea cheesecake recipe for her teahouse.

Jukiro remembers, “All I said was, ‘Hey, I’ve had your vegan cheesecake, can you make a chocolate matcha cheesecake, using our tea?...She said ‘Yes.’ ”

It was a hit.

Now, Small makes the cheesecake special for the teahouse and delivers it every Friday. 

Have you discovered a confection at a local eatery that makes you want to skip the main course?

Email Lisa Spear at Lspear@gazettenet.com.




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