Matcha, the posh and powdered variety of green tea, is having a moment. Just last month Gotham crowned it “the new black coffee,” and last week the New York Times included it in its ongoing coverage of the tea tempest. On Instagram, we’re seeing more and more canisters of the fluorescent green super-dust popping up on our feed.
I tried my first matcha latte a few years ago at Extraordinary Desserts and fell instantly in love — with the tea’s zippy, grassy flavor and how it leans into the foamed milk, and with its unreal shade of emerald. Paired with cheesecake, it’s the ultimate. After Christine Dionese turned us on to the delicious matcha served at Urth Caffe, it’s now become one of our first (and last) stops when we’re in L.A.
This pick-me-up is a lot of things — caffeinated, made from the shaded, coddled leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant — but one thing it’s not is budget-friendly. Urth charges $3.75 for a small. Considering that Ryan and I are gardeners and not Kardashians, we decided to take take our obsession to the kitchen.
Matcha tea comes in different grades, ranging from basic “ingredient” (suitable for drinks and baking) to “ceremonial” grade on the premium end; the latter is splintered into two categories of consistency: koicha (thick), usucha (thin). Tea brands are carving out additional grades, like “café” and “classic,” for needs that fall in between culinary and ceremonial.
Matcha Source is one place where you can buy a variety of teas. Also, a new Matcha Love café opened 10 minutes away from us, serving matcha-flavored soft serve, tea sets and canisters to take home. The very sweet lady behind the counter demonstrated an abbreviated version of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, like one you can see here:
So…what if you’re high on lattes but low on time?
Homemade Matcha Latte
Makes one cup.
1 teaspoon of organic matcha green tea
1/4 to 1/3 cup hot water (175 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than boiling, is ideal; boiling water can cause tea to go bitter)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup heated almond or soy milk for a vegan latte, or heated regular milk
Add matcha to a small bowl or wide cup, using a sifter to prevent clumping. Add hot water, and whisk vigorously. Sweeten to taste with agave, and add tea to desired cup or travel mug. Foam hot milk using a glass frother or a steam wand, then add foam to cup. Agitate slightly with a spoon to integrate the layers beneath the foam.