It’s the kind of bittersweet you will constantly crave for.
There is something special about matcha that makes it so addictive– its distinct flavour that makes any dish a memorable creation, and its ability to soothe our souls while giving us a boost of calm alertness. For some, matcha is just an additional flavour to offer, but for nana’s green tea, it is their way of introducing the essence of Japanese culture to the world.
nana’s green tea was first established in Tokyo a decade ago. Now it has 97 stores around the world, 81 of which are in Japan, and 16 of which are outside of Japan, including the one we visited in Vancouver, which is, lucky for us Vancouverites, the first location to open in North America.
At nana’s green tea, their main ingredient is from Uji, Kyoto, a city in Japan known for their green tea. But the transformation from green tea leaves to matcha powder is a long laborious process. After a full year of growing, young leaves are picked by hand, then steamed to stop them from fermenting. Leaves are then left to dry and mature to intensify its rich flavour profile. Finally, they are grounded into delicate powder using stone mills.
After learning about how nana’s matcha is produced, we couldn’t wait to indulge in their tea-infused treats. The first item we tried was their Matcha Shiratama Parfait, comprised of matcha ice cream, azuki (red bean) paste, rice flour dumplings, warabi mochis, cereal, vanilla soft serve, matcha pudding, and matcha syrup. Each scoop of creamy matcha goodness was heightened by a variety of textures. Not only were their matcha from Uji, they also used azuki from Hokkaido and mochi from Japan to bring customers an authentic experience.
While we enjoyed the parfait’s heavenly layers of flavours and textures, my personal favourites had to be their Matcha Shiratama and Hojicha Shiratama Lattes, as these were where the quality of tea truly shined. As I took each sip, the full-bodied green tea aroma coated the inside of my mouth– first came a hint of sweetness, then a mild bitter aftertaste. Hojicha, which is roasted green tea, has a smokey flavour that is almost coffee-like. The flavours of these two lattes are unique in their own way, and the addition of chewy mochi bites is the cherry on top.
Besides tea lattes, nana’s green tea also serves a variety of azuki drinks. We went for a Strawberry Azuki Latte, a smooth and fruity drink with flavours that reminded me of ichigo daifuku, a Japanese confection that also consists of strawberry and red beans– this combination of ingredients truly compliments each other well. Their azuki latte isn’t only an alternative for those looking for something caffeine-free, it also a drink that even matcha fanatics will thoroughly enjoy.
If you are lucky that day, you might be able to get your hands on their green tea infused baked goods before they are all gone. We tried their matcha swiss roll, a soft and fluffy cake with the right amount of cream and an intense matcha centre.
When you feel like grabbing a savoury bite, nana’s green tea also offers a selection of “Japanese fast food”, like this Ikura and Salmon Donburi. It was a simple but satisfying meal.
If you are craving for some delightful green tea infused treats, don’t worry, nana’s has plans on expanding further globally so you might soon be able to taste quality matcha without having to travel far. But for those lucky ones with a nana’s green tea near you, it might be wise to head over and unwind with a cup of green tea or two.
2135 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC
Photos: Wendy Qian