Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Travel Talk: A Matcha-Themed Tour of London With Yannick Pucci of London Unravelled


Before embarking on Yannick Pucci's Matcha Green Tea walking tour last weekend, I'd already considered myself to be somewhat of a London matcha connoisseur. Chances are, if it's in London and it serves matcha anything, I've probably already tried it. Why? I'm slightly obsessed with matcha. I'm in love with the slightly earthy yet refined taste, which is subtle yet strong enough to be a little bitter. Plus, it's amazing when partnered with white chocolate or any other kind of dessert for that matter (matcha cheesecake or Swiss roll, anyone?).

Despite growing up in the US, our local Asian grocery stores always carried a wide variety of matcha treats. My brother and I grew up eating matcha ice cream mochi for dessert and dumped boxes of matcha Pocky sticks into my mom's shopping cart (if you don't know what Pocky sticks are, you're missing out). Although matcha-flavored goodies have been around for as long as I can remember, the craze has only recently hit London in the last year or so, with Shackfuyu's famous soft-serve matcha ice cream leading the way, followed by matcha lattes from popular, Instagrammable cafes such as Curator's Coffee Gallery and Timberyard (they're not on the tour, btw - too obvious!). The frothy, green hot drink makes an ideal alternative to coffee for those who still want a caffeine kick but with added health benefits. To others, it tastes like "pond scum" (not looking at you or anything, Runawaykiwi). 


Yannick's tour caters to the matcha-lover and London-wanderer alike, taking us to some of London's most familiar corners before expertly dispelling that familiarity by offering historical details and facts that I'd never known or had so obviously missed. It was eye-opening and refreshing all at once. During this walking tour, which lasted approximately three hours (but felt more like 1.5!), Yannick seamlessly segued from the history of London to the history of matcha, all before making carefully researched pit stops for matcha-related treats. From the well-known matcha latte to more innovative matcha inventions, this tour is for any matcha fan who's always wanted to get to know London a little better on foot. I was put to shame by Yannick's incredible knowledge of cafes, restaurants, and shops that served matcha desserts! I'd only been to two out of the six stops we'd made during the tour and of those two, I didn't even know that matcha options were available. 


Clearly, Yannick's selection of matcha pit stops were already impressive, but it was his intelligently planned route that really deserved praise. Tours can often be lazy, uninspiring. Plonk me in the middle of a museum or city tour and I'm stifling yawns, looking down at my shoes, or letting my mind wander (I once quietly slipped away from a city tour in Bath by stepping into the doorway of a pub - and not coming out until it was over). If anything, I walked away from Yannick's tour with a renewed sense of inspiration after seeing the backstreets of my city a little differently and getting excited about my new matcha discoveries. 


So, I'm not merely heaping this praise onto Yannick because he's my friend (or because he was armed with a Mary Poppins-like bag during the tour, armed with photos to illustrate his points and the occasional treat or two) - it's because I left the tour on Saturday feeling like I'd just seen a London that came alive, unlike the flat, one-dimensional version I see day-in, day-out during my commute to and from work. That and the fact that was now carrying some matcha treats in my bag. 

Tickets to Yannick Pucci's Matcha Green Tea walking tour can be booked through his website, London Unravelled, and cost £20 each, which includes the cost of food. My attendance was complimentary, but all opinions are my own. If matcha isn't for you (LAME!), then consider the Art Deco in Bloomsbury, Macarons & Mews, or Holland Park tours as well! They'd make great presents for Christmas. Just saying.
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20 comments

  1. Jaime, I have a confession... I've never even tried matcha anything..! Yannick's tours sound fabulous - I really love the mix of history, culture and, of course, food!

    Lauren xx | The Lifestyle Diaries

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    1. No way! I think that it's an acquired taste once you're older ... because I grew up with it, it tastes totally natural to me but I know people who are indifferent to it/hate it! We'll have to go for a matcha latte or dessert some time :) xx

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  2. You have no idea how much I could do with another one of those brownies right now!! I'm so glad I found a fellow matcha enthusiast in you Jaime and it was lovely seeing us both squeal together in excitement over these matcha goodies last weekend! Great write up :)

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    1. Forget the brownies, I'm all about the croissants, Shikha! Weren't they amazing?! It was so fun to be on the tour with you and your sister! I love that you share the same enthusiasm as I do for matcha :) Thanks so much for reading, lovely xx

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  3. I'm a huge fan of the taste of Matcha green tea! Especially in desserts, like mochi!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

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    1. Totally agree, Courtney! Matcha mochi is - hands down - the best!

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  4. I hated Matcha flavored things (except the tea) until I came here! It was Shackfuyu's dessert that turned me. What a cool idea for a tour!

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    1. Well done for giving it a try, Gianni! Think you'd like this one ... the brownies are my favorite!!!

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  5. I'd like the tour without the "Pond Scum", if it's all the same to you! That said, I'm always in favour of seeing the "hidden" parts of the city where we both live (and have completely different experiences!); the Art Deco one has my name on.

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    1. Haha, no worries, Ruth - it's not everyone's cup of tea (literally)! Yannick does some fantastic tours and is super knowledgeable about London, so you might want to browse the other ones he's got going in the New Year!

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  6. I've heard great things about Yannick's tours, and full marks for originality! I'd definitely try that matcha brownie

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    1. The matcha brownie is my favorite, Suze!

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  7. I side with RunawayKiwi on the pond scum, but if anyone could convert me it would be Mr P!

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  8. Sadly I'm with Emma and Rebecca on the scum school of thought but Mr P is a fab teacher of all things London.
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

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  9. Hi Jamie - do you think this tour would work for someone who has a baby with them?
    Claire xx

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    1. Hi Claire! Honestly (and I might be wrong, as I don't have the experience myself!) but I don't think it would be great for babies, only because it is a little on the long side (i.e. 3 hours) and a lot of the shops that we popped into are a bit cramped for space and wouldn't be able to accommodate a stroller very well. But Yannick has other tours too, like the one of Holland Park and those would be lovely to book on and probably more baby-friendly! You could always email him to ask too; he's super friendly and would give you honest advice. :) xx

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  10. Looooove matcha, but rarely think to order it! So cool Yannick introduced you to places you didn't know of and, totally agree re generally avoiding tours like the plague, but have read so many good things about Yannick's now I really ought to sign up! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

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    1. So many great places to discover on this tour, Andrea! Already can't wait to go back to some of them xx

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