The first time I attempted to visit Matcha Box on a Wednesday, they were closed. I returned Thursday afternoon; the door was open and there was a gentleman sitting inside. "We're not open now, but we will be tomorrow." I returned around lunch the following day—they were still closed. And then I went again just before 6 p.m. (you must think I have a lot of time on my hands), and—thank goodness—they were open!
Matcha Box is a pop-up shop opened by Alissa White, the founder of Matcha Source, an online shop dedicated to all things matcha. The shop, a tiny place next to Ñ at 33 Crosby Street, is open only for the month of June, and they keep strange hours, so make sure to check before you go. They're open Saturday to Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and "bonus hours" on Thursday and Friday from 4:30 p.m. until "about 7 p.m."
As a big fan of matcha in both liquid form and sweets, I was quite excited about the opening of the pop-up shop. If you only get one thing, make it a cup of iced matcha ($3.50), beyond refreshing in this summer heat. Each cup of matcha is made to order, simply blended in a martini shaker. The tea is served plain without sugar, a thankful relief. There are many places in the city where you can find matcha-based drinks, but only few where you can get it completely unsweetened. If you so desire, you can have the tea shaken with lime, ginger, or lemonade. Matcha lattes (hot and cold) are also served.
Baked goods, excellent all around, are created by pastry chef Jessica (who also runs the blog NY Anything). Everything, as you can imagine, is touched by matcha. Think wonderful puffy clouds of marshmallows ($2) dusted in a flurry of matcha powder...
...Or perhaps matcha in the form of single bite shortbread cookies ($1.50). The cookies are buttery crisp and distinctively bold matcha in taste, sweetened just so with a tumble in granulated sugar.
Madeleines ($2.50) offer both honey and matcha as key flavors. Matcha rolls in first, followed by honey, which lingers after the final bite. I expected the surface to be slightly more crisp—perhaps the humidity in the air made everything a little more moist than intended.
The Lemon Tea Cake ($4) makes for an ideal afternoon snack break while in Soho. There's a luxurious pour of matcha glaze—silky and intense in flavor. The cake itself, with a bright, chipper lemon tang, is fantastic in flavor, with a fresh, delicate crumb. Matcha truffles are also for sale, though they weren't available on my visit. I'll be sure to mark that on my agenda for return trips, along with traditional Japanese wagashi (by tea master Mary Beth).
The prices of these sweets are a little more than what I would be comfortable paying on a frequent basis. But for a one month pop-up shop with baked goods commissioned especially for the occasion, an exception can surely be made.