Making the perfect cup of matcha — the frothy green tea served during Japanese tea ceremonies — requires skill. The trick is to use a bamboo whisk to whip the brew swiftly with a smooth back-and-forth motion of the wrist.

"Work quickly and keep whisking until the tea reaches the consistency of a meringue," instructed master green tea blender Ryozo Taniguchi, speaking at a Japanese tea workshop that I moderated recently at the Culinary Institute of America in California's Napa Valley.

The session was part of the cooking school's annual Worlds of Flavor conference that took place in late April and was focused on Asian cuisine.