Like so many of our ancestors before us, many of us all well versed in the palate-stimulating properties of food. We are familiar with its integral relationship to the culture of a destination and I would like to think that we are increasingly being made aware of the health benefits and concerns around different food groups – but that is a debate for a different day. Certainly what I had never really clocked onto was the prophetic qualities of food…
A couple of years ago, I found myself in a predictable state of January blues with no confirmed travel plans for the year ahead. As I whiled away the wintery evenings with tasty cuisine at local restaurants, I ended up reviewing a local Argentinian restaurant that had opened up (one, I might add, which seems to have flagged in customer service since). 7 weeks later, I ended up in Argentina, watching Tango and indulging in dulce de leche at every opportunity. It seems my palate knew, even before my heart did, which destinations I was yearning to visit.
As time went by, I went on to twirl my chopsticks, sip on Hojicha tea and crave treacly miso glaze, as I have done ever since first discovering Japanese cuisine and never even imagining the winds would transport me eastwards.
We hear of the term, gold dust in fairytales but fine, green, elusive Matcha powder, with its soothing, calming qualities and hefty price tag, is perhaps the closest real life alternative I have found. Whilst its just-off bitter property is not to everyone’s liking, I have always considered it a welcome addition to the food and drink items in which it tends to feature.
Imagine my delight therefore when I learned that London Unravelled was now launching a matcha food tour in my hometown. This is niche in its truest definition but rather happily (for my taste buds and for tour guide Yannick’s creative concept), it was one I toppled right into.
To join me for the pilot tour, I grabbed my sister (my matcha in crime) and having previously been privy to his Piccdilly and Petit Fours Tour, I knew we were in for an afternoon of green treats and great conversation.
A Matcha Food Tour of London
As I am increasingly learning on Yannick’s food tours, you take home a lot more than calories, as you are almost guaranteed to step back on the underground wondering how on earth you could have walked these streets so many times over the years without even a morsel of the knowledge that he seems to possess about them.
Who even knew such colourful murals and quirky museums existed in the heart of Zone 1?
And, as a signature aspect of Yannick’s tours, we were led to undiscovered corners of the city that prove estuaries of calm exist even in the core of a heaving metropolis.
Sampling a cup of matcha latte on the tour was no surprise but the hip, relaxed café where it was served to us, as a resting point during the tour, enhanced the experience by boasting coffee art, soya milk alternatives, rosy red crockery and one of the most ornate vintage coffee machines in London (even if my sister did end up photographing the brand new modern one by mistake after hearing the anecdote!)
What did come as a surprise though was to observe the versatile ways in which London restaurants and cafes are embracing and innovating with matcha, which not so long ago I could only ever find in specialist Japanese shops around the city.
Since taking this tour, my newfound knowledge of the existence of a matcha croissant in London has brought out a disloyal side in me, as I now spot myself casting aside the almond, apricot and plain varieties in pursuit of the earthy, matcha alternative.
And the neatly carved slabs of matcha brownie with its dainty white chocolate snowdrops dispelled the notion of brownies always being dense, dark and sultry. Yannick had asked us whether we wanted to try the brownie or croissant and it didn’t take us long to realise we wanted both. Greed is an unattractive trait but there’s no denying that it leads to some insanely tasty exploits 😀
And our run of indulgent matcha treats had only just commenced. You’ve heard of the Cronut (croissant and doughnut combination) but have you heard of the biskie? No? Don’t worry, neither had I but believe me when I tell you that these squidgy round discs of heaven destroy the recovery prospects of all struggling dessert-holics by sandwiching together three of their weaknesses, the cake, the cookie and the biscuit.
Many people who are new to the food tour concept worry about portion sizes and feeling over-stuffed but from most of the food tours that I have experienced, generally, a real effort is made to get the balance right and after the more solid goodies mentioned so far, our lighter bites came in the form of a small matcha chocolate and a wafer thin matcha langue du chat biscuit from a serene Japanese bakery that oozes class from every inch of its premises.
Considering that this was a pilot tour, I have to say, this matcha food tour was exceptionally well run and the only technical glitch that arose was when our doughnut stop weren’t stocking their matcha flavour that day but we took one for the team and settled on the orange blossom instead – it’s a hard life when you still have another dozen or so flavours to choose from!
For those who have never tried it, matcha is a bit of an acquired taste and camps seem to be divided between those who cannot bear the thought of it to those who border on fanaticism for matcha, a club that my sister and I are proud to be part of. If you are the person who always looks at the dessert menu when you’re out for Japanese food, hoping to see matcha mochi, matcha ice cream or even something a little more creative scribbled on there, you need to be booking yourself onto this tour!
And, sure enough, the spell of prophecy worked its magic once again – approximately 6 months after I took this tour, I find myself packing for Japan at this very moment. Something tells me my matcha consumption is about to sky rocket!
Disclaimer: We were invited to the test-run of the matcha food tour at a discounted rate but my fondness for matcha and for Yannick’s tours were a done deal even before I arrived on this! All views, good or bad are entirely my own.
39 thoughts on “A Matcha Green Tea London Food Tour”
I’ve never had matcha, but I like this idea of prophetic food! I love that you can go on food tours like this where you live, so that you can find the best places to visit over and over again. We did a food tour in Hawaii and in Denmark and they were so much fun. In Hawaii, we needed up revisiting the places we loved most. It really is the best way to learn about the best hole-in-the-wall food!
Absolutely agree Carolann! For such a long time, I thought doing food tours was very much a thing for abroad but doing it at home is even better because, as you say, we can just go back to our new favourite discoveries again and again! 🙂 Wish I’d have looked one up when I went to Denmark a few years ago!
who knew there were so many spots to buy matcha flavoured food and drink in London!
I know! Certainly not me Andy but I’m all the happier for it
What an interesting post! Honestly I never fancied matcha flavor until I moved to Japan, but discovering different ways it’s used in cooking is so fascinating! xoxo, nano
Oh really? I kind of know what you mean as if it’s used wrongly, it can be quite an offputting taste & it’s certainly a bit of a love hate type of ingredient but unfortunately for my waistline here in Japan at the moment, I love it and now I know a these places back in London to continue the craze! x
looks great! I’ve never tried matcha:)
Give it a go Tanja! I think I first tried it in the form of matcha green tea ice cream at a Japanese restaurant several years back and I’ve been hooked since!
Such an interesting idea for a tour and so clever of Yannick to find all these places.
I know! He’s tapped in on a great niche Angie, as there are quite a lot of matcha fanatics around &, I thought anyway, there weren’t too many places serving it in anything other than ice cream form but his leg work has certainly proved me wrong! 🙂
Interesting tour – very specialised! I’ve not tried anything match, but the croissant and brownie does intrigue me. Might have to give it a go when I’m in town next…
I’m a bit biased Keri, as I really like it but I reckon it’s definitely worth a try – dessert is quite a nice way to first try it too as the drink can sometimes have a bit of a bitter after taste but the sugar in matcha desserts speedily gets rid of that!
I know several matcha addicts who are going to LOVE this tour!
Genius concept eh Emma?! It’s not a tour that will draw in just everyone as lots of people don’t take to matcha but I know there are lots of matcha addicts in the city of London, who are going to more than a bit excited about this!
This looks so good. I love your photos (and descriptions of yumminess) – I simply must try join Yannick for a tour soon.
Aaah thank you Mandy! So pleased to hear it has tempted you! And yes honestly on both of these food tours I’ve done with him, I’ve been amazed at the yummy discoveries & the history behind them!
I think I’ve been staring at (and drooling a little :P) your images of this tour for about 30 minutes. Seriously – how tasty does everything look?! This sounds like a really unique tour; I’ll definitely want to give this one a try!
Hehe, I frequently find myself drooling over your foodie posts Kasha – shall we call it an occupational hazard of blogging?! This was such a cool tour in the way that it’s so specific to such a unique ingredient that many people have never tried whilst at the same time, taking us to stops where it’s fused into things we all know and love like croissants & brownies! Highly recommend it if you fancy trying something a bit different or know anyone who loves Japanese flavours 🙂
I have found myself becoming quite the matcha fiend recently so this looks right up my street! How divine are those matcha biskies – I had them at afternoon tea last week; looks like I *need* to try the matcha croissant and brownie next….xxx
Haha, of course! No need to justify the *need* to me Ayushi – I’ve been *needing* to try virtually all the matcha goodies since I arrived in Japan!
OMG matcha heaven! I’ve tried those green tea kit kats before – they were incredible! Xx
Ahem….There may be a couple of those green tea kit kats still in my suitcase awaiting unpacking Ayushi!!
Shikha I am obsessed with Matcha! I start every morning with a matcha and a paleo muffin, they are just so good! I am so delighted to read about this, I NEED to go.
Ash | Liakada
Oh my gosh Ash – your daily breakfast sounds so good & would totally set me up for a day! I remember reading in one of your NYC posts about you trying a matcha hot chocolate so I’m glad to hear you’re a fellow matcha enthusiast! Something tells me you’re going to LOVE this tour!:)💚
Wow, I didn’t realize how popular matcha was in London! Sounds like I should go on the tour and learn more.
I didn’t either Julie as I’d have had a hungry snoop round many of these eateries long ago had I known! It’s an acquired taste but I’m pretty sure I’ve acquired it!
I’m so late to the matcha trend – on first taste I didn’t think it was for me, but I think having a pro like Yannick introduce it to me in many different forms might change my mind! Have a wonderful time in Japan – I’m yet to cross it off my list!
I really think it ranks up there with those love or hate ingredients Connie – marmite, anchovies &…err…matcha! I thought I was a matcha pro but I didn’t know about any of the places on tour so just goes to show these kind of food tours are every bit as good for locals as they are for tourists! 🙂
OMG matcha croissant. Now I’ve seen it all. 😉
I know right Frankie?! But you know, in Japan on my recent trip, I saw a matcha croissant with matcha sponge cake kind of layered on top of it! Definitely a stodgier breakfast than one needs first thing in the morning but how could I not?!
Omg Shikha…Biskie?! I’m a sucker for dessert and I’ve never seen or heard of these…I’m now on the hunt for one haha! I’m not a big fan of matcha itself but I’m intrigued by the desserts, I think the sugar may balance out the bitterness and change my mind. I’m sure you tried the matcha kitkats in Japan?? I loved them so much I brought a couple of packets home with me! x
Hehe, I’m sort of regretting buying so few of the matcha kit kats as souvenirs from Japan Priti! I think I had matcha overload when I was there but now I’ve been without it for a few days,am totally craving it again! I’d never heard of biskies either so I’m not sure whether it’s something specific to this place or whether it’s the latest trend – pretty yummy though either way!
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