This week we’re going non-alcoholic… still adult but no booze. Tonight I made my first green tea latte. Not just any green tea though, Matcha green tea. I’ve been on the hunt for the stuff for years in tea shops and other specialty stores. I didn’t want to buy it online… yet. I finally found some at Wegman’s a few weeks ago and have been waiting for the right time to open up that little gold can.
What is matcha? Matcha is a very finely-milled (and highly priced) Japaneses green tea. It has staggering amounts of the antioxidant EGCG in it. It’s found in some plants, mainly tea, but only in green teas (not black teas). By now everyone’s heard of it, it’s a media-darling and the topic of much research due to its potent antioxidant properties. You can get a decent overview here (wikipedia to the rescue!).
Beyond it’s therapuetic potential, EGCG has a special place in my heart. Many friends in my graduate program (including myself) have done research on the benefits of EGCG… skin cancer, lung cancer, Parkinson’s (that was me), lots of things. One of my dearest friends in grad school and lab mate did work on intestinal tumors and EGCG. We had many talks about it over the years and EGCG always makes me think of her. In fact, this drink is something we should have shared during one of our many talks but we were too busy studying (chatting) it to drink this fancy version. 🙂 Good for the body, and good for my heart!
I’ve been sick this week and figured tonight was a great time to bust out an antioxidant powerhouse like matcha. Matcha contains a crazy high amount of EGCG compared to other green teas. Bring it on! Originally, I wanted matcha to get concentrated green tea flavor in baked goods and ice cream mainly, but also to drink it on its own. I really enjoyed my first home experiment with it tonight and will surely need to buy a bigger tin now!
There are two ways to make matcha: thick or thin. The thick version only has a small amount of water in it and is thicker than Turkish coffee, for example. I made mine the thin way with some hot, frothed milk. No fancy bamboo matcha whisk (my apologies to traditionalists) needed. The flavor of my matcha was smooth and not too bitter – matchas from different regions can have different flavors much like coffee and chocolate. It most certainly tasted like green tea but was also ‘green’ tasting, reminding me a bit of spinach. I really liked it plain. I had already frothed the milk for a latte so on I went. After adding in the milk and tasting it that way (which also was good), I added about a teaspoon of honey (tasted it again, still tasty) and then a few drops of vanilla extract. Totally yummy and comforting. And gorgeous. It’s a beautiful emerald green color. You can’t help but feel healthier just looking at it.
To froth hot milk at home without a fancy milk steamer is easy. Heat the milk in the microwave until hot, about a minute or two. Use a regular whisk – whatever size that juuust fits in your milk-containing vessel. Put the whisk between your two palms and roll it quickly back and forth. Keep doing this for about a minute and you’ll have beautifully frothed milk! Keep going for another minute if you want more froth. You can use any fat content level of milk. Whole milk will give you a softer froth while skim milk will result in a stiffer froth. I happened to have whole milk on hand from some recent baking so I used that today.
I used the same technique to froth the tea. The amount of froth in your matcha is a personal preference. I had some froth but not too much. The foam had this pretty rainbow going on in each bubble. It just made me smile. I think the wire whisk did a fine job mixing the matcha – some day I’ll get my own fancy bamboo whisk and compare.
One more tip: EGCG is temperature sensitive. Without getting all science-nerd on you guys, if you overheat the green tea, you’ll breakdown the EGCG and be left with none. So when the instructions on your green teas read a certain temperature, they mean it. The tea will also taste different to a trained taster if you use boiling water versus 140 degree water. I heated my water to boiling in the microwave and then let it sit out on the counter to cool until it was still hot but I could comfortably put my finger in it.
Matcha Green Tea Latte
½ cup hot water, not boiling
2 teaspoons matcha powder
½ cup milk, any kind (you won’t use it all unless you like it on the weak side)
1 tsp honey
couple drops of vanilla extract
Heat the water in the microwave for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and let cool for a minute or two. Water should be hot but not boiling. Feel free to bust out your thermometer and get the temp to the desired temperature listed on your matcha.
While the water is cooling a bit, froth the milk in a seperate tall, deep container. To froth, use a wire whisk and roll quickly back and forth between your palms until you have you desired amount of foam.
Add the matcha powder to the hot water and whisk in using the same technique as used for the milk. Be sure all the matcha is mixed in and you do not have any lumps. If your matcha seems lumpy to start, press it through a fine seive before adding to the water.
Next add in the honey and vanilla if you wish to use them. If you’d like to try the latte sans-extra flavoring first, just add these two at the end. Pour in your desired amount of hot milk then spoon the frothed milk foam on top of your latte.
That’s it! Easy and good for you. If you love tea, especially green tea, I hope you try this. You can make an iced version, put it in smoothies, milkshakes, or straight up. Comment below and let me know how you like your matcha!