Recipe • Matcha Latte

I consider Aldi a barometer of the times. Last week I was perusing the mythical middle aisle and came across organic, Japanese matcha powder. I’ve been in the health and wellness world for coming up to 20 years and remember a time when it was a struggle to find many ‘superfoods’ in health foods shops, let alone a small supermaket. Then you see it on a Starbucks menu and know it’s reached the big time (though be warned - their sweetened lattes are not for the faint hearted and contain an eye-watering amount of sugar).

Matcha means powdered tea and it refers to a lengthy process that begins before green tea leaves are harvested. The leaves are covered with cloth before being picked, which encourages young stems and these are steamed to stop fermentation, dried and aged in cold storage. They are then stone ground into a fine powder. It is traditionally made by mixing a small amount with hot water and whisked with a special bamboo whisk until it is fully mixed and froths.

Unlike normal green tea where you infuse it, with matcha you’re drinking the actual leaves. This higher potency means you get a bigger caffeine hit which is about half that of a cup of coffee.

All matcha is not created equal. As it’s difficult and expensive to make, there are a lot of teas on the market that call themselves matcha as it’s an unregulated term, so buyer beware. For this reason, it’s crucial to buy your matcha from a reputable source so that you know exactly what is in it and if your budget permits, choose organic as this reduces the risk of exposure to pollutants and contaminants for yourself and the planet.

Many people have been extolling the benefits of matcha and it joins the myriad of other ‘superfoods’ at the back of peoples cupboards. Matcha contains small amounts of minerals and vitamins, but it’s most well-known for being rich in polyphenol compounds called catechins, a type of antioxidant.

I’ve had a packet of matcha sitting in my fridge since it first came onto my radar many years ago and I haven’t wanted to part from it (yes, it was expensive and I feel guilty about not using it). After cleaning out the fridge and moving it for the umpteenth time, I thought I’d revist it, making it for Billy as he’d never tasted it before.

MATCHA LATTE

1 cup of milk (whole milk, coconut milk, almond milk, whatever your preference is)
1tsp matcha powder
1tsp vanilla extract

PROCESS
Measure the amount of milk you need by filling up your cup.
Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend for about 30s until it turns green.
Heat up in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk until it’s hot enough and serve.

TIPS
i. You can substitute using a blender with a milk frother or, for a more authentic effect, use a bamboo matcha whisk.
ii. You can use cold milk and pour it over ice for a refreshing iced matcha latte.
iii. If you have a sweet tooth, add some honey to the mix when you put everything in the blender.

- F