I experimented with a new ingredient this weekend: matcha. Matcha is the finely milled green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It’s also used to dye foods. After working with it this weekend, I can see why. A very small amount gives a very intense green color to whatever it is added. And to your dishwater as you clean up your mess.
It resembles the very fine mica powders and pigments I use to tint my polymer clay. So, after using it to make some matcha cupcakes with matcha cream cheese frosting, I decided to mix it into some translucent polymer clay and see what happened.
But first, the cupcakes. I found a recipe on Pinterest last year for matcha cupcakes and finally got around to making them. One of my hobbies is making gourmet cupcakes and I love to experiment with “exotic” and unexpected ingredients.
These are the third tea-flavored cupcakes I have tried. I made some Earl Grey (technically, those were brownies), chai cupcakes with ginger cream cheese frosting, and Firefly sweet tea vodka cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting.
I don’t eat the cupcakes. I am a salty-savory person and don’t much care for sweets and baked goods. (but hide your potato chips and roasted almonds) I just like to bake because it lets my inner organic chemist out to play. I take the cupcakes to the office where my co-workers magically make them disappear. I usually top them with a cream cheese frosting regardless of what the original recipe calls for. I detest American buttercream: it’s so flat and sickly sweet, it ruins a good cake. I have occasionally used dark, milk, and white chocolate ganaches (whipped and not) in lieu of frosting. And once I made a Swiss meringue buttercream. Whipping up that emulsion made my inner organic chemist giddy.
Anyway, once the cupcakes were done, complete with some little pink Cadbury mini eggs for garnish, I cleaned up the kitchen and turned it into my polymer clay studio. I mixed a teeny weeny bit of the matcha with some translucent polymer clay. I didn’t have any project in mind, so I just rolled the clay into some balls and then squished them between some texture sheets. That’s a shape idea I got from The Blue Bottle Tree’s rustic beads tutorial. Just as baking delights my inner organic chemist, squishing polymer clay amuses my inner child.
I wasn’t sure what would happen to the color of the matcha-tinted clay during baking so I only made a few test beads. Once I took these out of the oven, I was wishing I had whipped up a whole big batch. These are unfinished – not sanded, painted, glazed, etc., and I may not do anything more to them. I love the saturated earthy organic green color with the rustic off-center shapes. Maybe I will dig through my stash to find some accent beads and make myself a bracelet. I will definitely make more of this recipe, in other bead shapes and sizes.
By the way, I also made myself a cup of matcha after cleaning the kitchen/studio for the second time in a day. I am sure it wasn’t nearly as sublime as what I could get from an authentic tea ceremony. But it was earthy and aromatic and soothing just the same.