After years of seeing matcha pop up on the Starbucks menu, or hearing about it from your tea-loving friends, you must be just a little curious about this mysterious drink! In our short guide, we’re going to take you through what matcha is, how it tastes, how to make it perfectly so it tastes really good, and some interesting matcha flavor combinations to tantalize your taste buds.
Making matcha is super simple but when you get it just right, it’s truly delicious.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea originating in Japan. Green tea leaves are finely crushed and powdered. Then the powder is whisked into hot water (or milk if you fancy a matcha latte). Instead of draining out the leaves like you would with a typical Chinese green tea, you actually drink them!
The processing of green tea leaves to make matcha is different from other green teas too. First, the tea plants grow in the shade rather than in direct sunlight for a month before the harvest date. Once the baby ‘tencha’ leaves are picked and processed, the stalks and stringy leaf veins are removed before it’s turned to powder.
The result is a vibrant green powder that’s an integral part of the Japanese tea ceremony. Preparing and making the matcha is all part of a process that’s almost therapeutic. Serving and sipping the matcha at a tea ceremony is something you can recreate at home, or just enjoy a cup of matcha yourself.
- Texture – good matcha is incredibly fine, like baby powder. It shouldn’t be gritty or clump at all. It will dissolve into your water completely, with no bits left at the bottom of your cup.
- Flavor – it should be smooth, sweet and not bitter at all. Avoid anything with artificial sweeteners.
- Grade – use ceremonial grade for drinking and the cheaper culinary grade for cooking.
- Color – vibrant jade green matcha has been grown with fertilizers, while dull green matcha hasn’t. Both high grade organic and non-organic grown matcha can taste spectacular, so this comes down to personal choice.
Matcha Tastes Like…
Starting with the aroma, matcha can smell a little grassy with vegetal notes. The texture should be slightly thick and frothy on top, and very smooth right down to the last sip.
The flavor is hard to describe. Just like the first time you tried alcohol or coffee, it might not be palatable. It takes a few cups before you can appreciate the depth and complexity. Matcha has a rich, astringent and vegetal taste. It might even have notes of seaweed or savory umami. Matcha can be naturally creamy or enhanced with milk to make it even creamier.
The aftertaste is what brings us back for more! It has an enticing sweetness that lingers in your mouth until you take the next sip.
How to Make Good Matcha
To make matcha, you need matcha (obviously), a small sieve, a matcha whisk, and a small bowl or cup. You can also use a matcha scoop to dose the matcha if you want, but a teaspoon will also suffice.
- Sieve 2 teaspoons of matcha into a cup.
- Add hot water – use water at 80°C rather than boiling.
- Whisk thoroughly in a Z motion, going back and forth until you have a nice, even frothy layer.
- Sip your matcha straight from the bowl.
Matcha Flavour Combinations
Just like people enjoy their green tea with honey or black tea with chai spices, you can flavor your matcha with other flavors. These are a few of our favorite matcha flavor combinations but really it can go with anything.
Fruits like peaches, berries, mango, and other juicy fruits go well with the fresh grassiness of matcha.
Dessert flavors are also popular, like chocolate, caramel, and honey. They enhance the sweetness and add some creaminess. We find these flavors work best with a matcha latte. Try using soymilk, almond milk, and other nutty kinds of milks to add other flavors to your matcha besides dairy milk.
Matcha and Cinnamon
Cinnamon is warm, comforting and the spice of choice for Fall lattes and Christmas cookies. The warmth goes exceptionally well with matcha lattes, as it plays with the grassiness of the matcha and creaminess of the milk. Add half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to your matcha powder or even try a mix of chai spices.
Matcha and Mint
Finely chopped spearmint leaves or refreshing peppermint can be whisked directly into your matcha. Is best if they’re in powdered form so the mint blends in smoothly, but you can simply garnish with mint instead. The mint makes the green tea super fresh and bright with menthol.
Matcha and Chocolate
Chocolate mixes very well with matcha. Hot chocolate powder can be mixed with your matcha, or for a truly decadent hot chocolate, you can melt milk chocolate into milk then whisk through your matcha powder. The sweet creaminess contrasts with the strong matcha and adds more depth.
Matcha and Raspberry
Matcha and raspberry is a classic flavor combination. You can find matcha with raspberry powder mixed in, or you can add fresh raspberries to your matcha yourself once it’s whisked. Raspberry jam in a matcha cake is a delicious recipe too! The tartness against the grassy matcha is refreshing.
A Matcha Made in Heaven!
There’s really nothing to making matcha other than a little time, patience and effort to whisk up a lovely frothy green tea. Use high-quality matcha and bamboo utensils for the best results. It only takes a few cups before you’re completely hooked!
Finally, just keep in mind that matcha is quite high in caffeine. One cup of matcha can have 60mg of caffeine, which is more than a cup of black tea. Enjoy a shot of matcha as a morning wake-up drink or create a matcha ceremony for your tea-loving friends.