Tea lovers and coffee addicts are usually at odds, but recently, the two camps have been bonding over the same very Instagrammable drink: matcha. Meaning “powdered green tea,” matcha is a green tea made from leaves that have been grinded into a fine powder, and then mixed with hot water — though you can also have it iced, if that’s more your thing. You can either drink it as is, or add milk for a sweeter matcha latte.
Related: 3 popular uses for herbal tea
Traditionally, drinking matcha was part of Chinese and Japanese ceremonies, but now it is an everyday drink (though koicha, a thicker, pastier matcha is still typically reserved for special ceremonies.)
The benefits of drinking matcha
With 34 mg of caffeine, matcha has more caffeine in it than traditional green tea, but a little less than half of the amount in a cup of black coffee. So it provides a kick for a good three hours without the crash coffee gives you when it wears off.
Since you are essentially drinking entire green tea leaves ground up, the health benefits are higher than just sipping traditional green tea. The Journal of Chromatography found that matcha has three times the amount of EGCG, a phytochemical known to fight heart disease and prevent tumor growth, as regular green tea. Studies have also found that EGCGs help fight viruses such as the common cold, so drink up if you’re feeling a little snuffly.
How to make it at home
Making matcha is a little more high maintenance than brewing a regular cup of tea. You need the matcha powder and hot water of course, but also a ceramic bowl, bamboo scoop, shifter and whisk. Your best bet is to buy a matcha set where this all comes together. Or, head to one of these three places:
For the full traditional experience:
Ippodo Tea Co
125 E. 39th St., 212-370-0609
While you can get tea — and matcha lattes — to go, we suggest getting a table to escape the chaos of Midtown and rejuvenate in Ippodo’s quiet oasis. The green tea company has been around for nearly 300 years and the café has an extensive menu of various green teas (not just matcha) as well as the thick koitcha matcha typically reserved for ceremonies.
The employees here take pride in honoring the traditional tea making process. You’re sure to get a perfect cup every time. The family-owned company was even the subject of a short documentary, which took home the grand prize at last year’s Food Film Festival.
When you’re on the go:
67 Prince St., 212-219-1956 and
140 Smith St., Brooklyn (new!), 718-422-7986
Australian tea brand T2 sells a variety of teas, but they just launched a whole matcha collection including cinnamon matcha, mint matcha and choc matcha. It’s also the only place where you can get a matcha flask so you can drink your matcha anywhere. On Fridays, bring your matcha flask to any T2 location and they’ll fill it up for free.
Eat your matcha:
25 Murray St., 212-791-5550
This traditional Japanese bakery has everything from tiny treats to full cakes. They also have matcha everything: crepes, roll cakes, mousse, croissants and macaroons. There are so many green goodies on the menu, you’ll have trouble choosing just one.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence