I think it’s impossible to go to Japan and not come back obsessed with matcha. It’s everywhere there, especially in the region around Kyoto where some of the best matchas in the world are grown. We saw everything from matcha soft serve to matcha mochi to matcha tiramisu… and gobbled up every bit of it.
What is matcha, you ask? Matcha is a green tea, from the same plant as the stuff you steep, but shade-grown and ground into a whole-leaf powder. Since you are consuming the entire leaf when you drink matcha, this refined growing method is important as it results in a less bitter, brighter green tea. The shade-growing process also gives the plant higher concentrations of nutrients, antioxidants and amino acids, in particular theanine (its mellowing properties countering the caffeine for a lovely, calm energy… not jittery like coffee).
Here’s the thing, even cheap matcha is not cheap, but the range is still enormous. More expensive matchas are made from just the most tender tips of the tea plant, hence the hefty price tag. Less expensive, culinary grade matcha uses leaves farther down the plant. It’s more bitter this way, but in this situation that bitterness is tempered by the milk and sugar. I paid about $25 for 60 grams, which is a good middle-of-the-road matcha. It’s still from the Uji region, one thing to look for if you’re looking for a good matcha, but about half the price of the Premium or Ceremony-grade variety of the same brand.
This iced drink is made by first making a simple matcha syrup with sugar, water, and matcha powder. The syrup is poured over ice and topped with frothed milk (I used whole milk, but you could also substitute a non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, or coconut too!) One batch of syrup is enough for two lattes, but you could certainly make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for instant iced matcha anytime the mood strikes you.
I added a hint of cherry blossom flavor in the form of sakura leaf powder (the leaves of the cherry trees apparently carrying the strongest sakura flavor, go figure!) A mere 1/4 teaspoon mixed with the matcha syrup imparts a lovely flavor to the drink, with notes of almond, apricot, and holiday spices. Of course, this addition is entirely optional and you can certainly enjoy a straight up matcha latte without it.
Also? This would be great with boba. I mean, right??
- 1/3 cup filtered water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons matcha powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sakura leaf powder
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk (or other milk of your choice), frothed if desired
- ice, for serving
- In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and whisk in matcha and sakura powder until smooth and no lumps remain.
- Fill two glasses with ice. Pour half of matcha syrup over ice into each glass.
- Froth milk if desired using a handheld frother or whisk. Pour into glasses and stir to combine. Enjoy!