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Tea Bar’s Erica Swanson Talks Matcha’s Quiet Emergence

Ben McDonagh Booth

Every food gets is day sooner or later. Last year, pizza sure seemed to be Portland's new "It" girl. And most won't argue that year hot dogs seem poised to be this year's pizza.

But unless they contain spirits (and generally the brown kind), drinks can often fly under the radar. But if you've peeked into a variety of cafes shops town, you'll notice that one drink is currently and quietly trending in Portland right now: matcha.

Erica Swanson, the owner of NE Killingsworth's Tea Bar says she thinks that reason that matcha is getting its due right now is because of its versatility.

"People like it hot and people like it cold," she says. Plus, she says, it tastes "delicious."

It also doesn't hurt that matcha, with its chlorophyl, fiber and amino acids, is good for you, too. It's the only tea, Swanson says, that we consumer whole, rather than just sipping its steepened water.

Naturally, Swanson and her team serve it as a latte—as do Harlow, Pip''s Original, POA Café and Sip—but they serve it as a "shake," too, in which the matcha is sifted, whisked and shaken over ice with milk till cold.

More surprisingly though, at least in these parts, is the fact that matcha's making its way into our food.

Behind the Museum Café often makes matcha cakes and, until recently, served matcha brownies.

And if you've dropped by any Blue Star Donuts location recently, you'll notice that they've rolled out little green matcha donuts.

Similarly, Silver Moon Crêperie's Chris and Teresa Therrien whip up matcha puddings, which they wrap up in a crêpe before finishing it by sprinkling it with a matcha sugar.

And Pitch Dark Chocolate's Brian Flick collaborates with The Jasmine Pearl Tea Co. for limited-edition small-batch runs of matcha truffles and matcha chocolate bars (think matcha-covered nibs on one side and a fine matcha dusting on the other).

It's doubtful that matcha could ever win us all over the way pizza or hot dogs can, and it may not be the next big thing, but it sure looks like it's a thing that just might be her to stay.

How do you take your matcha? Let us know how in the comments section.

Tea Bar

1615 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97211 (503) 477-4676 Visit Website