Like the Italians who believe milk and sugar ruin the taste of espresso and that cappucinos are not for real men, Japanese purists must be shocked to see their prized matcha green tea being mixed in everything from lattes to ice cream to Oreo cookies, candy bars, and martinis, too!
Some of us may have even added sugar to Japanese green tea when we first tried it (what are those packets of sugar doing on the table, anyway?) However, since most people with an appreciation for Japanese culture and cuisine prefer their green tea straight, I was recently surprised to meet a Japanese-American who sweetens her green tea.
After serving a wonderful macrobiotic dinner, she offered us a “matcha latte”. Once I explained that I limit milk (non-dairy) to a single cafe latte at breakfast (for caloric purposes, not out of respect for Italian taboo), she insisted that we just give it a try. Mixed with sweetened vanilla soymilk and honey, the green tea bag and the tiny amount of matcha powder that accompanied it were overpowered by the sweetness of honey and added sugar in the flavored soymilk.
Ever since that day, I had been craving a matcha latte made with the rich taste of Kyoto (“Uji”) matcha and unsweetened soymilk. Once I got past the idea of pairing matcha with my breakfast oatmeal, I’ve been happily alternating matcha lattes with chai lattes and cafe lattes ever since. Try it for yourself, and let me know what you think!
Matcha Latte Recipe
Making a non-dairy matcha latte at home is simple.
1/2 TB genuine matcha powder
1/2 cup hot * water
3/4-1 cup soymilk or your favorite non-dairy milk
*not boiling, i.e. 65 – 85 celsius /150-180 fahrenheit water, as excess heat apparently degrades the anti-oxidants (catechins) contained in the matcha
Spoon matcha powder in a small bowl
Add a few tablespoons of hot water and mix with bamboo or wire whisk (using back-and-forth, not circular motion) until smooth and frothy. Add the remaining hot water, to taste
Pour the matcha into a cup of heated non-dairy milk. I use a microwave for convenience, but if you have an espresso maker, foaming your milk makes your matcha even more creamy and luxurious.
Note: Due to the way genuine matcha is cultivated (kept in the shade prior to harvesting) and processed (powdered–so you ingest the entire tea leaf), it has many times the health benefits of green tea and green tea powder, including 10 times the nutrients (amino acids) and 100 times more anti-oxidants (even more than acai berries and blueberries).
Matcha also has less than half the caffeine of coffee, and it assimilates slower, so it doesn’t bring the adrenaline crash associated with coffee.
While writing this post, I found loads of useful information on health benefits of green tea and matcha at NutritionFacts.org.
This post is also available in: Japanese