Willie has always known that the tea we drink in the UK is a poor imitation of tea how it’s supposed to be. By adding milk, and often sugar, we drown out the antioxidants and much of the flavour that gives tea it’s respect in Japan and China.
Matcha is the ultimate green tea, as it uses the entire leaf. The preparation is careful and considered, with crops being covered before harvest to encourage new shoots which provide the essential nutrients. Matcha is believed to help with a wide variety of diseases and health complaints from high blood pressure to cancer.
The Matcha Mousse Cake
With respect for the eminence of Matcha, and inspired by its taste, Willie created his infamous Matcha Mousse Cake and shared a lifestyle photograph of it on Twitter.
“After I shared the photo on Twitter, the wife of a tea master got in touch to invite me to Uji to try their ceremonial grade Matcha. I promised to make time to visit when travelling to Japan for the salon de chocolate. I believe in chance encounters, of tangents and unexpected opportunities. I was excited to see Matcha at the source and to find out more about this incredible tea.”
To Uji, With Love
Japanese architecture tends to favour the new and bold, as efficiency is revered and so older, historical buildings may be torn down if the aesthetics are damaged or they are not fulfilling the best purpose. This is why it was refreshing for Willie to find himself directed down a long winding lane, flanked by fields of green leaves, in a quaint, picturesque village.
The house itself was unremarkable but was a small boutique powerhouse for some of the world’s best Matcha.
Willie explains, “After the initial warm greetings, and a tour of the house and facilities, where they had grinders pummelling this organic green powder to the finest dust. A freezer room to preserve the purity and chambers to store the tea, I sat down to begin the ceremony of the tea tasting. The tea master’s wife was American and so she kindly translated, which meant we could have a fluid conversation without any language barriers. In China, a long time ago, I realised that the tea we drink, with milk and sugar, is a poor imitation of how it’s supposed to be. The taste of a soft black unadulterated tea is sublime. The Matcha I was presented with was clear, smooth. fresh, better than any Matcha I’d tasted before and eye watering expensive! It was obvious though, after tasting and seeing how this Matcha was grown and harvested that I couldn’t use anything less than this grade of Kotobuki if I was to create a new chocolate bar with it.”
Perfecting the Pairings
From the village south of Kyoto, Willie returned to the chocolate factory in Devon to begin the creation of the new bar. He wanted to celebrate the flavour, to put it on a pedestal and to ensure that it was respected, not only by the flavours paired with it but by all who tasted this new, highest grade Matcha bar.
In the meantime, others sent Willie Matcha to try which compounded his belief that he had tasted the very best. As with all of Willie’s creations, choosing a cheaper alternative was not an option, it never entered his mind. The quality of ingredients in Willie’s chocolate is paramount, regardless of the cost. If he is to make the finest chocolate, only the finest ingredients should partner with it. This is just a snippet of the strong ethos that drives Willie’s Cacao.
The Jewel in the Crown
Willie started with white chocolate, he is keen to point out that this wasn’t from laziness, but from a chocolatier’s ingrained understanding of pairing flavours. Willie’s Cacao white chocolate has a lot less sugar than conventional white chocolate, having the same low amount as the dark chocolate, yet Willie felt even this low amount seemed to cloud the flavour of the Matcha. That’s when he brought the sugar content of his white chocolate right down to 23% and found this plummet in the raw cane sugar used did indeed put the Matcha on a pedestal.
Now known as a green jewel of a chocolate, the Matcha bar is the most popular of Willie’s Cacao bars at this moment. You can buy yours here.
FROM UJI TO UFFCULME