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THE MATCHA JOURNEY FROM UJI TO UFFCULME

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 history of Matcha, and inspired by its taste, Willie created a layered Matcha Mousse Cake and shared a photograph of it on Twitter.

“After I shared the photo on Twitter, 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 du Chocolat. 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 their purpose. So Willie found himself directed down a long winding lane, to an unremarkable house that was in fact a small 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 stone mills grinding this organic green powder to the finest dust and chambers to store the tea, I sat down to begin the ceremony of the tea tasting.

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. We tasted every level of Matcha from what is typically used as an industrial ingredient, to cooking matcha, drinking match and finally Kotabuki Ceremonial Grade Drinking Matcha. This is where the colour was the brightest, the taste the purest and the freshness and clarity simpley extraordinary. They couldn’t believe this is what I was going to make my chocolate with… it was eye wateringly expensive!“

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 ingredients paired with it but by all who tasted this new, highest grade Matcha chocolate.

Tempering Matcha

In the meantime, others sent Willie Matcha to try and each time he made a little batch, tempering it on marble to make a test bar. This reinforced his belief that he had tasted the very best. As with all of Willie’s creations, choosing a cheaper alternative was not an option. The quality of ingredients in Willie’s chocolate is paramount. Everything is driven by his belief that the finest ingredients make the finest flavours.

The Jewel in the Crown

Matcha is such a delicate and refined flavour that it was obvious it could never shine in milk or dark chocolate. So Willie paired it immediately with white chocolate, disregarding the others. 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, c. 30% compared to 50-60% in many others. 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%. This really did put the Matcha on a pedestal.

To check he was on the right track he sent a few bars back to the Tea Master in Uji. They loved it!

Willie's Cacao Matcha Bar

Now the emerald green jewel in Willie’s range, the Matcha bar is the most popular of Willie’s Cacao bars at this moment. You can buy yours here.

October 2018

Published: 22/10/2018

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