Going Green (Tea Lemon Wafers) This Christmas

A different kind of Christmas cookie.

A different kind of Christmas cookie.


You have to love a book that invites you to bake a different cookie every day in the lead up to Christmas.

Indulging in a different, freshly baked treat every day? What could be better?

That’s just the premise of “Cookie Advent Cookbook” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook is by Virginia Van Vynckt and Barbara Grunes, two authors who are avowed cookie lovers.

Kids will love the cover of the book, depicting a Christmas tree laden with 24 ornaments. Lift up the flap on each ornament to uncover a tiny illustration of the “cookie of the day.”

The cookies are standard classics for the most part, such as “Swedish Thumbprints,” “Candy Cane Cookies,” and “Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti.”


I gravitated toward one of the slightly more unusual ones, “Green Tea Lemon Wafers.” These are a breeze to make because the flour, sugar, egg and butter get cooked on the stovetop in a saucepan.

The recipe calls for “green tea powder.” To me, that means matcha, the deeply hued powdered green tea used in Japanese ceremonies. However, I think the authors may have used pulverized green tea leaves, as their cookies in the book’s photo are more blonde colored with just a hint of green to them. In comparison, mine made with matcha came out vivid green, looking almost like smooth river stones.

Matcha -- found easily at Japanese grocery stores.

Matcha — found easily at Japanese grocery stores.

Although the recipe is called “Green Tea Lemon Wafers,” the lemon was missing from the recipe. So, I just added about a teaspoon of lemon zest. That coupled with a touch of honey made these cookies taste just like a cup of freshly brewed green tea, the kind you might enjoy if you felt a tickle coming on in your throat.

The dough for these cookies is runny like thick pancake batter. And if you use matcha, it will take on the appearance not unlike that of a facial mask.

The cookies are soft, cakey and delicate looking. They are slightly sweet with hints of grassiness and tannin. You can serve them as is. Or sprinkle on red decorating sugar, as the recipe suggests. Or even dust with a little confectioner’s sugar before enjoying.

They make for a soothing sweet, the perfect antidote when the holidays get a little stressful.

A striking color.

A striking color.

Green Tea Lemon Wafers

(Makes about 27 cookies)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1 egg

1 tablespoon green tea powder (matcha)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour

Red decorating sugar for sprinkling (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the butter, granulated sugar and honey, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat. Whisk in the egg, then the green tea powder, lemon zest and flour to make a smooth batter.

Drop the batter by teaspoons onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheets until they firm up, 3 to 4 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire racks.

Sprinkle the warm cookies with the decorating sugar, if desired, then let cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Adapted from “Cookie Advent Cookbook” by Virginia Van Vynckt and Barbara Grunes


Another Green Tea Cookie to Try: Green Tea Shortbread with Poppy Seeds


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  • I like the vivid green cookies that you made than the idea of a blond cookie. This seems more fitting for the matcha craze right now where everyone’s making matcha with everything! I like the idea of adding red sprinkles afterwards, sounds like it’ll look really Christmas-y. Do you think it’ll stay on or do you think it needs added help like egg whites?

  • Ben: That’s a good question. I think if you sprinkle the red sugar on right after you pull them out of the oven and the cookies are still a little soft, they should stay on. I’m guessing the authors didn’t suggest sprinkling the sugar on BEFORE baking because the batter is so thin that the sugar might just sink into it.

  • These are so pretty, simple, and yet different from the usual sugar cookies. πŸ™‚

  • Love the idea of an advent cookie cookbook! Not that I’d have the time to make a new batch everyday, but my boys would sure be all in for the idea

  • Your book omits the lemon zest and when to add

  • Linda: Yes, the recipe in the book doesn’t have that info, which is why I included in my version of the recipe above, as you can see. Hope that helps!

  • there seems to be a lot of buzz about matcha these days, but i remember it from way back in my barista days at starbucks! these cookies are unique and sound delicious. πŸ™‚

  • This is a fun recipe which I can’t wait to try! Yay for tea in everything πŸ˜‰

  • I just made them today. They’re pretty good, taste richer than you would think (I think of matcha as a ‘healthy’ ingredient, ha ha!) I would 3x or 4x the lemon zest because I’m particularly fond of lemon. I wish there was a crunchy version of this cookie.

  • Celia: I know what you mean — crisp on the edges and chewy within is my favorite cookie texture. You could probably just add some matcha to your favorite shortbread recipe to come up with a crisp cookie, too.

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