My love of matcha green tea knows no bounds, and given the chance, I’ll find a way to put matcha tea powder in anything I can: pancakes, waffles, cookies, you name it. Matcha lovers, I’m sure you understand. But what kind of matcha makes the best latte?
As I was learning Japanese, I could understand the proper pronunciation of matcha better. Matcha is mah-ttch-ah with a soft ah and a subtle drawl of the t in the tch sound. Mattcha. Frequently spelled matcha, the proper way of saying it sounds like mattcha, but I’m being a word nerd here. (I can also spell it in Japanese hiragana: まっちゃ)
And the Japanese certainly know their tea.
Japanese tea ceremony has been practiced for centuries. The art — or way — of tea is an act of grace and beauty. It is a zen ritual of being in the moment, utilizing tea to connect with the spirit and to share the experience with others. The highest ceremonial grade matcha is used for tea ceremony, as the whole tea leaf contains intense flavor and color. The vibrant green color is grassy and fresh.
There are two kinds of matcha in preparation: usucha (thin tea) and koicha (thick tea). Usucha is made from the leaves of the tea bushes that are younger (30 years) and koicha is made from the first harvest of plants that are at least 30 years old and more. There is a natural sweetness to high-grade ceremonial matcha tea so you rarely want to add any sort of sweetener. A matcha latte, when made with frothed soy, almond or coconut milk, transforms into a finer experience than your usual matcha latte made with a sugary powder blend. The taste of the tea stands out without being too sweet when made properly with a superior grade matcha.
It’s possible I’m sounding a wee bit snobby over my matcha latte, but once you’ve tasted the quality over the crappy stuff, you’ll get my reason for explaining it. Sort of like instant coffee with artificial sweetener versus a quality espresso made with perfectly frothy milk. There is no comparison.
Over the past year I’ve spent a great deal of time obsessing on my Instagram feed. I’ve connected with a few tea purveyors and tested out their brands. There are a few winners and some that weren’t so special. Yes, I’m a sucker for great packaging, but if the tea itself lacks substance, I won’t be that into it, nor will I promote them via blog or Instagram. But when the two come together– great packaging and superior tea — then we are in love.
My favorite matcha teas are well stocked in my tea cabinet. I make matcha lattes quite often, so there’s room for plenty, and as far as I’m concerned, I can never have too much matcha on hand. In my cabinet I have culinary matcha (for cooking and baking), and I have other grades of matcha, such as the ceremonial grade, which I expressly use for matcha lattes.
Once, upon receiving a beautiful gift box of matcha tea during the holidays, I did add a small scoop of it into some special matcha pancakes for my daughter’s 12th birthday, but I knew better than to use all of my precious ceremonial matcha for a celebratory short stack. Besides, I’d need the good stuff to indulge in frothy matcha lattes.
Foam is the main reason for anything latte, even without the dairy milk version. Traditionally, a bamboo whisk is used as a tea frother, but in a pinch (if you don’t possess a bamboo cha-sen whisk) you can use a handheld battery-operated frother and no one will ever know any different (unless you are making matcha during tea ceremony, of course, in which case that would be quite embarrassing).
You will need:
- bamboo whisk
- matcha tea powder
- organic coconut milk
- honey or maple syrup, or your own sweetener (such as stevia) optional
If you love matcha and find yourself craving that frothy cuppa, try this dairy-free matcha latte recipe:
½ cup hot water
½ cup organic light coconut milk (or full fat) or almond milk
1 teaspoon matcha tea powder
1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup, or stevia to taste (optional)
- Add high grade matcha tea powder to a small amount of hot water in a Pyrex mixing bowl or mug.
- Using a bamboo whisk (or frother) whisk quickly in up-and-down and side-to-side alternating to make a green paste out of the matcha powder.
- Add hot water slowly and a little warm milk of your choice. You can temper the hot water as you mix it into the paste while stirring.
- Place the frother on the surface of the latte and turn on carefully, allowing it to froth and foam until your desired texture.
- Add sweetener as desired.