A good matcha latte is vibrant green, clean and fresh tasting with subtle umami and grassy notes, and has the body of a cappuccino. It's barista-friendly, requires little in the way of specialized tools, and is a perfect transitional offering for coffee drinkers seeking an easy introduction to tea. 2019's organic matcha lot checks all the boxes, and is indicative of a larger trend in matcha—quality-minded producers are developing exceptional teas for a rapidly growing market stateside, and the latte is its most popular format.
Dose 2g of matcha tea into a mug or bowl.
As with coffee, proper dosing is fundamental to making stellar matcha lattes. For both pure tea and lattes, we start with 2 grams of powder. A 茶杓(chashaku—"tea scoop") is the preferred tool for this (and is ideal for busy baristas, as one scoop is roughly 2g), but any spoon-like utensil works. Place the tea into either a bowl to be whisked in the traditional style, or into the mug you intend to make the latte in. Use an accurate, real-time scale, and tare the weight of the bowl or mug to accurately dose your matcha.
above: traditional whisking
above: modern whisking
Pour 50-100 ml of 180°F water over powder, whisk vigorously.
(FOR TRADITIONAL WHISKING)
To prepare your matcha with the traditional method, transfer your 2g dose to a high-walled bowl with a flat base (preferably sifted through a fine mesh strainer to prevent clumps). Then, introduce 50-100 milliliters of 180°F (82°C) water to the powder. Using a 茶筅 (chasen—"tea whisk"), vigorously whisk the liquid until a semi-thick paste forms with a finely aerated layer of foam on top. The whisking motion should follow a back-and-forth "W" pattern in the bowl, with the tines of the chasen as close to the bowl floor as possible without making contact. The final product should be the consistency of an espresso shot. Transfer this to the mug you'll serve the matcha latte in.
(FOR MODERN WHISKING)
For consistency and ease, some baristas prefer to use an electric "whisk" (typically a milk frother) to aerate the tea and achieve espresso shot body quickly. For this method, transfer your 2g dose to the mug you intend to make the matcha latte in (preferably sifted through a fine-mesh strainer to prevent clumps). Then, introduce 50-100 millimeters of 180°F (82°C) water to the powder. Using your hand-held, motorized "whisk", submerge the circular part at the end of the stem in the liquid, and froth until fine bubbles form on the tea's surface.
Most customers—especially newcomers to tea—will anticipate a lightly sweet matcha latte when ordering. While we prefer it pure with steamed milk, house-made syrups like vanilla bean or lavender can accent and temper matcha's natural grassy qualities. Using the small side of a standard jigger, measure out .5 - .75 ounces of simple and add it to your whisked matcha paste.
Steam your milk of choice to standard latte consistency.
Once you've prepared an espresso shot-like matcha paste, matcha lattes can be poured in exactly the same manner as traditional coffee lattes. Steam your milk of choice in a pitcher. Once the temp is up and the tear tapers off, be sure to gently tap the bottom of the pitcher on bar just before pouring to prevent air bubbles. Our mylk of choice for matcha lattes is oat, which steams like dairy and lifts the toasty umami elements of our organic matcha. Beyond that, any high-quality, full-fat dairy (locally sourced if possible), works well.
At this point, the matcha latte is smooth sailing for experienced coffee professionals—just pour your steamed milk into the matcha paste as you would with an espresso shot, with sweeping circular motions at first to fill and incorporate before executing latte art to finish. The final product should fill the mug and be an even green hue free of splotches. It's worth noting that matcha is perfect practice for baristas learning latte art—there's less mess, less loss, and it effectively replicates pouring into espresso.