For months now there has been some kind of crazy matcha green tea powder shortage in Chicago. A few months ago I called every Whole Foods and every Asian grocery in the city and couldn’t get my hands on any. Finally a Trader Joe’s employee told me there was some kind of crop crisis and no one could get matcha. I tried to make green tea cupcakes with bubble tea powder, and what resualted was a kind of bizarre, maybe too sweet Bubble Tea with Lychee Drops cupcake. It had its fans, but I wasn’t really one of them. To be honest, green tea and I have a weird relationship. I want to like it, but I rarely do. I like it as actual tea, masked by honey and lemon but not straight up. I like it in complicated desserts with black sesame seeds and other exotic things, but not usually as a cake with frosting. Recently, one of my friends and I enjoyed green tea and vanilla swirl soft serve at Mitsuwa, amidst an anime convention, no less, and it restore my faith in magical, mystical green tea.
My friend Jason at BeBoBa Bubble Tea House was kind enough to donate a big bag of Matcha powder to me as soon as he was able to get it back in stock. I wasn’t happy with the last green tea cupcake recipe I used, it wasn’t very dessert-y and it kind of tasted like eating yucky bread so I put my faith in Julie Hasson’s recipe from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes. Not only is it my favorite cupcake book but it also calls for butter and buttermilk, two of my favorite baking components. I figured if a green tea cupcake was ever going to taste good it was going to taste good full of butter and buttermilk.
Well, the fact that they smelled exactly like bacon when they came out of the oven still baffles me. Hopefully one of you will bake these and let me know if you experience the same phenomenon. It was fun to make swirly frosting, that much I’ll admit, but I still can’t say I’m a fan of green tea cupcakes. Sorry.

If you’d like to see if these smell like bacon in your house you’ll need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp matcha green tea powder*
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, room emperature
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk**

*Don’t use sweetened green tea mix, use real match powder.
** If you use powdered buttermilk add 2 1/2 Tbsp of powder to the dry ingredients and use 2/3 cup water in place of buttermilk in the instructions.

Then you:
Preheat your oven to 350, line a pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, tea powder, baking soda, baking powder an salt.
In a larger bowl, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mix and two of buttermilk. Beat until smooth.
Scoop into pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then cool out of pan on a wire rack.

You could top these with a number of frostings, the green tea glaze from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World would be good, lemon buttercream, honey cream cheese… I did a crushed vanilla bean and green tea swirl. Just make vanilla buttercream (I use a crushed vanilla bean extract instead of regular vanilla) and divide the batch in half. Add about a tsp of matcha to one half, and a few drops of green food coloring, mix well. Using an offset spatula, scoop half of the white frosting into half of a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, and then fill the other half with green. when you pipe the frosting on it will swirl together.

So there you go, green tea lovers. Eat up.