Matcha, a Japanese powdered green tea that originated in China, is now joining coffee and other teas on café menus across the Western world. It brings with it an ancient and distinguished pedigree.
Called “the mother of all green tea,” matcha has been used for hundreds of years by Zen Buddhist monks in Japan as a ceremonial and meditational drink. The famed Japanese Tea Ceremony is a formal celebration of matcha, which was brought from China by a ninth-century monk.
In 21st-century North America, you can grab a matcha drink on the fly from just about any barista, while matcha cafés are opening in major cities around the U.S.
If coffee gives you the jitters, you might want to try matcha for a change: This jade-green tea powder whisks up into a creamy, flavorful cup that provides caffeine’s energy with a balancing dose of L-theanine, an amino acid that has a relaxing effect without causing drowsiness.
Matcha also pairs well with sweet, fruit and dairy flavors to balance its own delicate umami qualities. The matcha milkshake recipe below is one you can customize to your own tastes; try adding some blueberries, or trying maple syrup instead of honey.
What makes matcha different from other green teas — which all come from the same plant — is the way it is cultivated, harvested and processed.
A few weeks before harvest, some green tea plants are shaded from the sun. The green leaves they produce, steamed and dried, are known as tencha. Ground to powder by stone mills, tencha becomes matcha.
Traditionally, matcha is prepared by whisking the green powder with hot water using a whisk made from a single piece of bamboo. You can use any type of whisk to mix the matcha for this milkshake recipe, as long as you’re sure to whisk it thoroughly before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.
Get the recipe: »» Matcha Green Tea Milkshake