If you've stepped foot inside a health-food cafe of late you may have noticed the clientele bypassing the normal round of coffees for something resembling a latte, but with a green or soft golden hue. Matcha and golden tumeric lattes can offer drinkers a warming ritual similar to drinking an espresso coffee, but with arguably fewer downsides.
Matcha tea is the finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. Unlike traditional green tea leaves, which are steeped in water and then discarded, matcha powder contains the whole ground tea leaf, which is ingested whole. The taste and nutritional benefits are vastly different to standard green tea; matcha has a softer, creamier flavour and contains up to 10 times the antioxidant content of standard green tea brews.
Matcha has historically featured as part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, however modern matcha-drinkers are re-inventing the blend to make "matcha lattes"; serving it with a base of almond, coconut or cow's milk, warm spices (such as cinnamon and nutmeg) and sweeteners to taste. It can also be added to smoothies, ice-creams and pancakes, its fluorescent green pigment makes it a great natural food colour option.
Green tea leaves contain high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These help to protect against heart disease and cancer, and are known to have anti-ageing properties. Because matcha tea contains whole leaves it has a significantly higher concentration of antioxidants compared to steeped green tea. It also contains good amounts of healthy compounds such as chlorophyll, which gives it the bright green colour.
Matcha contains up to three times as much caffeine as steeped tea. Yet aficionados claim that it induces an "alert calm", which is different from the typical coffee "jitters". This could be due to the high levels of l-theanine; an amino acid that induces relaxation without drowsiness.
How to make a matcha latte
Ingredients (per serve)
1/2 tsp matcha green tea powder (see stockists below)
1/4 cup hot water (the water should be hot, but not boiling, 80C is ideal)
1 cup milk (coconut, almond or cow's milk), heated to a hot (but not boiling) temperature
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp honey or maple syrup
1. Place the matcha tea in a small wide bowl, then slowly pour in the hot water using a bamboo whisk or a teaspoon to combine making a W or M shape in the bowl. Add the honey and continue to stir.
2. Pour the heated milk into a teacup or mug, then add the matcha-honey mixture. Stir well.
3. Sprinkle with spices and serve immediately.
Match tea powder stockists
About Life (various)
Earth To Table Bondi
The Farm Wholefoods
The Natural Food Market
Aunt Maggie's (various)
Go Vita (various)
Great Earth (various)
Prahran health foods
St Ali cafe
Sunnybrook health food
Matcha Maiden also has a detailed list of Australian stockists.