Green Tea Ice Cream: A Refreshing Japanese Delight

Imagine a scorching hot day, the sun beating down on you relentlessly. What could be more satisfying in such a situation than a bowl of earthy and sweet Matcha Ice Cream? It’s the perfect treat to cool you down and tantalize your taste buds. With just a few simple ingredients, you can create this delightful recipe right in the comfort of your own home. Are you ready to embark on a journey to Japan with every spoonful of this authentic green tea ice cream?

A Japanese kutaniware bowl containing matcha green tea ice cream served with a wooden spoon.

In Japan, green tea is one of the most beloved flavors for sweets, especially in the form of ice cream. However, finding green tea ice cream that truly captures the authentic taste can be a challenge, even for someone like me who has been living in the U.S. for over 15 years. Most of the options available are either overly sweet or excessively creamy, masking the delicate flavor of the tea itself. And when it comes to matcha ice cream, there should never be a need for any artificial coloring or flavors.

But fret not! If you’re longing to experience the true taste of Matcha Ice Cream (抹茶アイスクリーム), I have just the recipe for you. This homemade ice cream will transport you straight to Japan with its deep intensity and rich texture.

A glass container with matcha green tea ice cream in it.

What Does Matcha Ice Cream Taste Like?

The ideal flavor of matcha ice cream is a perfect balance of earthiness, sweetness, and a hint of bitterness. Matcha, being more concentrated than regular green tea, offers a robust and distinctive profile that doesn’t require a large quantity to experience its full-bodied taste.

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This homemade ice cream recipe emphasizes the deep intensity of matcha flavor while maintaining a rich and creamy texture. That’s exactly how matcha ice cream should taste in Japan! No weak matcha flavor here, just a burst of authentic Japanese goodness. And to top it off, matcha ice cream contains caffeine, making it the perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer day!

A Japanese kutaniware bowl containing matcha green tea ice cream served with a wooden spoon.

Matcha vs. Green Tea

While both matcha and green tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Matcha (抹茶), known for its vibrant green hue, is more expensive and comes in small canisters as a finely ground powder. The tea leaves used to make matcha are shade-grown, meaning they are protected from direct sunlight. This process increases chlorophyll production, resulting in a darker shade of green. Only the finest buds are hand-picked, de-stemmed, and ground to create the vibrant green powder we associate with matcha.

On the other hand, green tea (緑茶) is cultivated from leaves that have been exposed to sunlight. It is typically found in tea bags or sold as loose leaf. Green tea has a lighter flavor than matcha, with a milder earthiness due to lower concentrations of tea compounds.

Ingredients for Matcha Ice Cream

Don’t be deceived by its complex flavor profile; making Matcha Ice Cream at home is surprisingly simple. You only need four basic ingredients, and eggs are not necessary!

  • Matcha (Green tea powder)
  • Half-and-Half or Milk & Cream
  • Sugar
  • Salt

A Japanese kutaniware bowl containing matcha green tea ice cream served with a wooden spoon.

5 Tips for Making Matcha Ice Cream

To ensure your Matcha Ice Cream turns out perfectly, here are some handy tips:

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Tip #1: Buy the Right Matcha

When purchasing matcha, you’ll come across different grades: ceremonial, premium, and culinary. For this recipe, you’ll want to use culinary-grade matcha, which is specifically intended for cooking purposes.

Premium quality matcha is often more expensive and is best reserved for drinking. Additionally, matcha tends to oxidize and lose its vibrant green color over time, so it’s advisable to purchase smaller amounts and use them within 2-3 weeks after opening.

Tip #2: Half-and-Half vs. Milk & Cream

Originally, this recipe called for Half-and-Half, which is a blend of whole milk and light cream commonly used in the United States. However, for those without access to Half-and-Half, there are alternative options:

  1. Whole milk + heavy cream
  2. Half-and-Half
  3. Low-fat milk + heavy cream
  4. Whole milk + light cream

Each option provides a slightly different balance of richness and creaminess, so choose the one that suits your taste preferences.

Tip #3: Freeze Your Ice Cream Bowl

Before diving into the ice cream-making process, ensure that your ice cream bowl has been frozen for at least 24 hours. This step is crucial to achieving the desired consistency. Failure to freeze the bowl adequately may result in a liquid texture even after prolonged churning. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, there are alternative methods available, which you can find in this post.

Tip #4: Make Matcha Paste

Mixing matcha directly into a large volume of liquid can create lumps due to its fine powder consistency. To prevent this, prepare a matcha paste by combining the matcha powder with a small amount of liquid before adding it to the rest of the mixture.

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Tip #5: Refrigerate the Matcha Milk Mixture

For optimal churning and texture, refrigerate the ice cream mixture for at least 4 hours before freezing. This step ensures that the flavors meld together and sets the stage for a smooth and creamy ice cream.

A Japanese kutaniware bowl containing matcha green tea ice cream served with a wooden spoon.

Other Ice Cream Recipes

If you’re craving more icy delights, here are some other ice cream recipes worth trying:

  • Black Sesame Ice Cream
  • Azuki Red Bean Ice Cream
  • Mochi Ice Cream
  • Coffee Ice Cream Recipe

Ceramics from Musubi Kiln

As a delightful addition, I’d like to introduce Musubi Kiln, a remarkable online ceramic shop from Japan. They offer a wide range of exquisite ceramics that perfectly complement your culinary creations. Just for you, esteemed reader of JOC, Musubi Kiln is extending a 10% discount on your purchase. Simply use the coupon code JUSTONECOOKBOOK at checkout. For this post, I’ve featured the Ichikawa Wood Craft Cloud Shaped Wooden Tray and the Rinkuro Kiln Old Imari Story Chrysanthemum Imari Bowl Set.

Matcha Ice Cream (Video) 抹茶アイスクリーム

Ready to Embark on a Japanese Culinary Adventure?

If you’re keen to discover more about Japanese cooking, sign up for our free newsletter! You’ll receive cooking tips, recipe updates, and more! Stay connected with us on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram for a delightful dose of Japanese culinary inspiration.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 15, 2011. We have updated the content and images, and added a new video in August 2021.

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