matcha panna cotta


Some years ago, a friend took me to a Buddhist monastery, where we received a lesson in meditation. Although I’m not buddhist, I find many aspects of the religion attractive. One of them being the idea of meditation, where you strive to retrain your attention, so you’re not focusing on your children’s messy rooms but rather on repeating a mantra.

At the monastery, I remember the monk’s chants sounding like hundreds of hummingbird wings flapping around my ears. I remember his soothing voice penetrating my mind as if I was hearing him not through my ears, but through my thoughts. There in the monastery, I could focus on his voice, while taking deep breaths. It was relaxing and restful, like I slept a full night without any interruptions.

With such a memorable experience, I thought I would be a lifelong meditator. But then I got stuck in all of life. And forgot to meditate regularly. Or at all.


I often tell my forgetful son to use objects to remind himself to do things. A tossed sock in the hallway can mean that he needs to pack his music binder, or a book under a doorway reminds him to study for a test.

I tried out this same theory on myself, and pulled out a chartreuse tea container with the Korean word for tea, pronounced “cha.” It was a gift from the same friend who took me to the monastery years ago. Inside it were a few spoonfuls of matcha green tea powder which inspired me to make this dish. After emptying out the container, I placed it on the back of my stove. Now I have a daily reminder to meditate.




If you like green tea ice cream, this is a dessert for you.

matcha panna cotta

Yield: 8 one cup servings


  • 1 tbs powdered gelatin (1 packet of Knox Gelatine was used here)
  • 3 tbs water
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of milk (low-fat was used here)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs Matcha Green Tea
  • cocoa powder for decorating (optional)


  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water, and soak for a few minutes.
  2. In the meantime, heat cream, milk and sugar on medium heat in a saucepan.
  3. As the cream heats up, whisk in Matcha slowly.
  4. Do not let the cream come to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and stir until all the sugar dissolves. (4-5 minutes)
  5. Turn off heat, and pour liquid through a strainer into a heatproof pitcher (coffee pot works well).
  6. Add thickened gelatin into the warm liquid. Stir to completely dissolve.
  7. Pour into ramekins or small cups. Refrigerate for at least three hours.


For Yin/Yang design, cut out a paper circle (use paper with card stock thickness) that fits exactly on top of the serving dish. Draw the Yin/Yang design on the paper. Cut out along the dividing line. Tape on a small folded piece of paper on top of the cut-out. (This will help you lift up the stencil.) Very lightly, oil one side of the paper with your finger. (This is the side that will be in contact with the Panna Cotta.) Place stencil on the top of the Panna Cotta once it’s hardened, and sprinkle cocoa powder on the uncovered side. Lift off with paper handle.



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1 Response

  1. Katherine Relf-Canas says:

    So lovely and inventive. I’d call those mnemonic suggestions: life hacking.

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