The Allure of the Matcha Latte & How to Make a Perfect Cup of Matcha
Matcha is having a good year. If you are unfamiliar with Matcha, it’s a powdered green tea made famous by Japanese Zen monks. It has been used for centuries to create a sense of calm and focused alertness in both meditation and mindful living. We’ve been seeing all kinds of recipes lately using Matcha in sweets, hot drinks and cocktails. Matcha is also showing up more and more in coffee shops and cafés. Even Starbucks now features a Teavana Green Tea Latte made with Matcha (and a whopping 40 grams of sugar per 12 oz cup). Though I’m familiar with traditionally brewed Matcha, which creates a naturally creamy, frothy, sweet, umami and tremendously satisfying cup of opaque green tea, I was inspired by the Americanized recipes using Matcha. I set out to make an Arogya-style Matcha Latte, made with homemade almond milk and our ceremonial grade Matcha.
In my Matcha latte research, many recipes seemed wildly misinformed about Matcha tea basics. Some suggested boiling the Matcha in the milk, or pouring boiling hot milk/water over the Matcha. This was surprising because if there’s one thing to know about Matcha, it’s that low temperature water is essential. Boiling hot water on any green tea will produce a bitter brew, and the same goes for Matcha. To make a proper cup of Matcha, it’s important to use water no hotter than 175° F.
Once I understood the basics of Matcha latte preparation I set out to make my own recipe. I tried several different variations; some with sweetener, some without, some with frothed milk, some with whisked milk, some with half water/half milk, some with all milk, some with cocoa, and some with extra Matcha. My kitchen became a science laboratory with all the different kinds of lattes lined up for taste comparison. No matter the variation, however, I was consistently disappointed. It’s not that the Matcha lattes weren’t good, in fact each one was sweet, creamy, nutty and delivered the sense of mindful concentration that Matcha is famous for. However, with each frothy green concoction I felt like the milk, sweetener or cocoa obscured the best parts of Matcha. A good Matcha tea is creamy, nutty, complex, grassy, sweet yet savory, light and uplifting, with notes of dark chocolate. Burried under milk and sweetener, the Matcha became a flat undertone, reminiscent of the complexity of Matcha but lacking the overtones that usually delight my palate. While Matcha lattes may be a good introduction to Matcha for the American palate, I’m content to keep whisking up my Matcha plain and simple.
Preparing Matcha may seem elaborate with it’s bamboo utensils and precise water temperature, but once you get the hang of it, whisking up a bowl of Matcha tea is a delightful and delicious ritual. If you’d like to make Matcha with the traditional utensils you can find them in our store on our website.
Here’s how to make a proper serving of Matcha tea:
by Chloe Bolton
photos by Chloe Bolton & Sophie Slater