The Moment

Kyoto-Style Matcha + Cold-Brew Green Tea with Ippodo’s Miyako Watanabe

Photographs by Jason Fulford

On a sweltering summer morning, when Miyako Watanabe, the vice president of Ippodo Tea, came over to teach me some iced tea tricks, her ivory poplin dress was somehow still crisp. For me, this was the tea-fan-girl equivalent of Liz Prueitt stopping by to bake. I’ve been a fan of the centuries-old Japanese tea company since the oughts, when I ordered their matcha from Kyoto (somehow it was easier and less expensive than finding it in the States). Since they opened their only U.S. tea counter in Kajitsu, one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in NYC, in 2013, I’ve been biking uptown to stock up on matcha and barley tea (mugicha) — as well as to take advantage of their matcha slushie machine in the summer and thick, ceremonial-style matcha (koicha) in winter.


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Mrs. Watanabe brought all of the beautiful gear needed to make two summery green teas: A cold-brew gyokuru, the shade-grown, special-occasion sipping tea with a savory, surprisingly intense umami character that brings to mind seaweed and honey, and a shoin-no-mukashi matcha, which she iced down with a single cube. Like Mrs. Watanabe, the teas were cool, elegant and enlightening. Centuries of refinement aside, they were dead-simple to make. By the end of the shoot with Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin (a matcha friend and an Ippodo regular — she singles it out here as also having the best bathroom in NYC…true!), we were completely tea drunk. Tea drunk is a thing. I highly recommend it.

You’ll find the iced matcha recipe below and the gyokuru recipe here — exquisite Japanese porcelain not included. You can also find out more about matcha gear in this Bon Appétit post I wrote forever ago.

Iced Matcha

Serves 1

  • ½ tsp. matcha
  • 1/3 cup hot water (ideally 175 degrees F.; you can achieve this by boiling water, pouring it into a small pitcher or cup, then pouring it into your matcha bowl)
  • 1 ice cube
  1. Set a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl. Add matcha and gently sift into bowl.
  2. Pour hot water over (again, not boiling, which kills the flavor) and, using a matcha whisk, begin whisking briskly in an M pattern back and forth across the bowl until foamy (about 30 seconds). You can make this with cold water — some say that cold water brings out more of the umami flavor — but you won’t get as much froth. Your call!
  3. Add ice cube to bowl. Using whisk, gently stir until the cube melts*.
  4. * My less-delicate American method: At this point I pour the matcha into a jar, add 3 ice cubes, then seal and shake until really foamy. Sometimes the ice breaks up, making a semi-slushie. And, of course, you can use milk or nut milk in the place of water, though Mrs. Watanabe politely disapproves: “I wouldn’t do it personally, but I’m okay with people doing it.”