Once Exclusive to Japan's Tea Ceremony, 'Matcha' Bolsters Flavor and Health Benefits of Modern Cooking Says Iron Chef Judge

Drink, Cook, Eat: A Modern Take on the Love of Matcha

Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 6:30 pm, at Japan Society

** Featuring Demo & Tasting by Bestselling Author Candice Kumai **


New York, NY – Well known for its use in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha (powdered green tea) has a rich, slightly astringent flavor with a lingering sweetness that has become a sought-after ingredient for baking, cooking, and health drinks.

In Drink, Cook, Eat: A Modern Take on the Love of Matcha, Iron Chef Judge Candice Kumai, author of the The New York Times bestselling Cook Yourself Thin, discusses the modern use of matcha with tea expert Rona Tison of ITO EN, Japan's largest green tea purveyor. Kumai then leads an onstage demonstration on how to make matcha glazed fish, matcha soba noodles, and a matcha smoothie, followed by a tasting reception featuring these dishes, as well as samples of traditional matcha tea courtesy of ITO EN. Taking place Wednesday, April 16, 6:30 pm, at Japan Society, Kumai will also sign advance copies of her new book, Clean Green Drinks: 100+ Cleansing Recipes to Renew & Restore Your Body and Mind due to be published by Random House April 22. Copies will be available to purchase at the event.

In her "Top Get-Gorgeous Foods" list, Kumai includes matcha and describes its health benefits: "Green tea contains a large amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids, and studies show it may help boost the metabolism. Green tea also contains relaxing qualities, helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and can naturally help to detoxify your body... Tea leaves, like green tea, when derived from the Camellia plant are bursting with polyphenols. Polyphenols can help assist in the detoxification of free-radicals in your body. For good health and optimum wellness, I drink a cup of genmaicha-green tea (toasted-rice-green-tea), just like my 92-year old Japanese Baachan [grandmother]. It seems to be doing her a great thing or two."

Looking at the history of matcha, San Francisco's esteemed Urasenke Foundation notes that the first written record of tea in Japan was in the 800s, while tea ceremony traditions still practiced today were established in the Kamakura Period (1185-1392). “In Japan drinking powdered green tea was practiced largely in Zen temples where, in addition to its acclaimed medicinal properties, the manner in which tea sharpened mental and physical acuity assisted the monks in their long hours of study and meditation.”

Bestselling author Candice Kumai is a regular judge on Food Network’s "Iron Chef America", a contributing editor at Shape Magazine and a monthly columnist for Men’s Fitness. She was a former host of Lifetime’s "Cook Yourself Thin" and TLC’s "Homemade Simple." Kumai had traveled across Asia, NYC and LA as a fashion model by the age of 15, and at age 22 received her professional culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu California School of Culinary Arts. She was the youngest chef to compete on Bravo’s inaugural season of "Top Chef" at age 23. By age 30, Candice wrote and developed recipes for more than half a dozen cookbooks, including The New York Times #1 bestseller Cook Yourself Thin, The Skinny Bitch Cookbook, Recipe Rehab, Novak Djokovic’s Serve to Win and Shape Magazine’s, Bikini Body Diet. Her cookbooks include Pretty Delicious, Cook Yourself Sexy and the forthcoming Clean Green Drinks. In 2012 she began hosting workshops in New York City at the James Beard Foundation. Additionally, she has been an ambassador to the White House AAPI Alliance and The Resolution Project at Harvard Club, NY. She is a regular speaker at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Columbia University Medical Center, University of San Diego, The NBA and as a panelist for Harlem’s Farm to Table initiatives. Kumai lends her cooking and nutrition efforts to 1,000 Days (founded by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton), Whole Foods, The Chef’s Garden & Health Corps. She is a fellowship member of The UN Foundation. More at

Rona Tison is the senior vice president of corporate relations at ITO EN (North America) INC. Being half-Japanese and having grown-up in Japan, Tison is fluent in Japanese and well-versed in Japanese traditions. She is a highly-regarded expert within the tea industry and has received Green Tea Certification and is on the Advisory Boards of the Tea Association of the United States and World Tea Media. Tison received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley where she majored in Oriental Literature.

Drink, Cook, Eat: A Modern Take on the Love of Matcha takes place Wednesday, April 16, at 6:30 pm. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). Tickets are $12/$8 Japan Society members, seniors and students, and may be purchased in person at Japan Society, at, or by calling the box office at 212-715-1258. For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.

This event is sponsored by ITO EN (North America) INC. Lecture Programs at Japan Society are generously sponsored by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Japan Airlines is the exclusive Japanese Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. United Airlines is the exclusive U.S. Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. Additional support is provided by Chris A. Wachenheim, and the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.

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Media Contacts:
Shannon Jowett, 212-715-1205,
Kuniko Shiobara, 212-715-1249,

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