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What Does Matcha Taste Like: A Guide to Matcha Tea and Latte

Key Takeaways:

  • Matcha is recognized for its vibrant green colour and a unique, strong, and somewhat vegetal flavour which can be an acquired taste.
  • Traditional matcha tea is prepared by whisking hot water with finely stone-ground ceremonial matcha powder.
  • A more modern and creamy variant is the matcha latte, substituting most of the water with milk, softening the bold flavours of pure matcha.
  • Different brands and types of matcha may offer slight variations in taste due to factors like origin, purity, and overall quality.
  • Experimentation with syrups, spices, and different kinds of milk can alter and often sweeten the taste of matcha, making it more palatable to those finding matcha too bitter initially.
  • Simple matcha recipes like Matcha Smoothie Bowl, Matcha Pancakes, Matcha Energy Bites, and Iced Matcha Lemonade allow for culinary creativity and a fun introduction to matcha.
  • Compared to coffee, matcha offers a more sustained level of energy and alertness without the mid-morning caffeine crash, thanks to the amino acid L-theanine.
  • Matcha is lauded for its benefits including high antioxidant content, potential anti-cancer properties, and its ability to support heart health.

Matcha: if we asked you to name one distinctive characteristic of this tea, even without knowing much about it, it’d probably be its vibrant green colour right?

What Does Matcha Taste Like

Matcha is known for its bright green colouring, and if you’ve never tasted this drink for yourself, you’d be forgiven for being put off by that fact alone.

If you’re picky with your food and drink, the thought of consuming something bright green might send your taste bud’s alarm bells ringing - but before you throw in the towel, we’ll remind you of the age-old adage: don’t knock it till you try it.

To give you an idea of what to expect, we’re going to explain what this traditional tea tastes like, where it comes from, and how it compares to your regular cup of joe. You never know, you might become a loyal convert!

What Does Matcha Taste Like in General?

If you've been around the modern cafe scene, you've likely come across matcha in one form or another. When prepared traditionally as a tea, the process involves adding hot water to the finely stone-ground ceremonial matcha powder, followed by brisk whisking with a bamboo utensil. This method, often part of a revered tea ceremony, yields what is known as matcha tea, a beverage steeped in cultural tradition and modern-day popularity alike.

The core taste profile of matcha remains consistent regardless of the preparation method. When sipped, an earthy resonance blends seamlessly with grassy notes, while a subtle nutty undertone completes this natural trilogy of flavours. If you’re not mixing your matcha with other ingredients, this flavour will be more pronounced, and your matcha will taste notably more vegetal. 

Matcha is an acquired taste for most as it’s quite strong and unique, however, people who like matcha LOVE the flavour. If you’ve ever drunk green tea, you’ll have an idea of what these vegetal, grassy tones taste like - it’s just concentrated and more intense.

Each brand and type of matcha holds a slightly different taste due to factors such as its origin, purity, and overall quality. If you’ve been put off by the flavour before - try another brand before you walk away from it completely. The taste of matcha is indeed an acquired one; its distinct and strong flavour is a love affair for some, while others might need a few tastings to fully appreciate its unique character.

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What Does Matcha Latte Taste Like?

Another popular and more modern way to prepare matcha is to make it into a latte by swapping the majority of your hot water with milk to create a creamy, velvety drink.

If you’re a cafe goer or frequent your local Starbucks, you’ve probably seen these on the menu as a matcha latte or matcha milk tea - but take it from me, you can make a better one at home!

However you make your matcha, its main flavour profile stays the same - you can expect to taste rich tones of earthiness, grassiness, and even nuttiness. But the infusion of milk and syrups tempers the vegetal taste of matcha, rendering a smoother and more mellow flavour. 

This is particularly appealing to those who find the boldness of pure matcha a tad overwhelming. The latte variant still retains the earthy, grassy notes but in a softer, more harmonious manner.

Adding Syrups And Flavourings

As with any hot drink, you can experiment with different flavours and make the end-result taste different from its original form.

For example, adding flavoured syrups or even spices such as cinnamon to your drink can balance out some of the earthiness and bitter taste and add some sweetness to your drink. Maple syrup, honey and vanilla are also popular additions to matcha.

Adding Milk

Matcha tastes the most vegetal when it's made with just hot water. Simply swapping most of your water for milk, and making a matcha latte instead, can significantly change the taste of your matcha.

If you don’t want to be reliant on syrups or flavourings, you could even use sweetened vegan milk for extra flavour or add a dash of syrup or spice with your milk to change the taste even more.

Iced matcha lattes also have a different flavour profile than hot matcha as the ice changes the consistency of the powder and mixes with it in a different way.

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Simple Matcha Recipes

The multifaceted nature of matcha extends beyond the traditional tea and latte, offering a canvas for culinary creativity. Here are a couple of simple yet delightful recipes to enrich your matcha experience.

  1. Matcha Smoothie Bowl: Kickstart your morning with a nutritious Matcha Smoothie Bowl. Blend a teaspoon of high quality matcha powder with a banana, a handful of spinach, half an avocado, and a cup of almond milk until smooth. Pour into a bowl and adorn with your favourite fruits, nuts, and seeds.
  2. Matcha Pancakes: Infuse your morning pancakes with the goodness of matcha. Just add two teaspoons of matcha powder to your regular pancake batter. Cook as usual and enjoy with a drizzle of maple syrup and fresh berries.
  3. Matcha Energy Bites: For a quick energy boost, try Matcha Energy Bites. Mix a tablespoon of matcha with a cup of oats, half a cup of almond butter, a quarter cup of honey, and a sprinkle of chia seeds. Shape into balls and refrigerate for a healthy on-the-go snack.
  4. Iced Matcha Lemonade: A refreshing concoction, Iced Matcha Lemonade is perfect for a sunny afternoon. Whisk 1 teaspoon of matcha with a cup of water, add the juice of one lemon, a spoonful of honey, and ice. Stir well and relish the tangy, earthy refreshment.

These recipes not only highlight the unique flavor of matcha but also its potential to blend well with various ingredients. If you've never tried matcha or perhaps found that matcha is too bitter for you, trying these recipes may be a delightful way to start. Just play around in the kitchen, and have fun!

Where Does Matcha Come From?

Matcha, in the form that we know it, is a stone-ground tea powder. Matcha has a rich history spanning over 1000 years, and it originates from the infamous Japanese tea farms.

Matcha began its journey into culture when Buddhist monks would use it to aid their meditation practice - hence why matcha is known to produce clarity, peace, and focus.

The best matcha is typically characterized by a vibrant green colour, a sign of high quality and good taste. But why is matcha green, you ask? Well, this stone-ground powder is the result of powdered young green tea leaves.

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 Click here for Kenko Organic Matcha Click here for HappyMatcha Organic Matcha

The tea leaves selected for matcha also come from shade-grown tea which increases the chlorophyll content of the leaves, giving it the classic and distinctive bright green colour.

Growing leaves in the shade also encourages the concentration of the amino acid -theanine. This amino acid promotes a greater sense of relaxation in the body which is why many people use matcha for meditation, relaxation and better sleep.

Based on its quality and intended use, the grade of matcha is often categorized into ceremonial grade matcha or culinary grade matcha.

Coffee Vs. Matcha Tea: How Do They Compare?

coffee vs matcha

Many loyal coffee drinkers are swapping their morning pick-me-up for matcha. But why?

Just half a teaspoon of quality matcha contains 35 mg of caffeine. Research has found that matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that can change the effects of caffeine and promote a more sustained level of energy and alertness throughout the day.

In other words, you won’t get that mid-morning caffeine crash as you do with coffee (although, matcha may make you need to poop mid-morning much like coffee) .

Although the average serving of coffee contains significantly more caffeine (180mg, to be precise), it doesn’t contain L-theanine, so you won’t get that synergistic effect of sustained energy and alertness like you would with matcha.

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The Key Health Benefits Of Matcha

Another significant reason matcha is becoming more popular with traditional coffee drinkers is the various health benefits it possesses.

As researchers continue to dig into the benefits of drinking matcha, emerging evidence suggests it’s great for our health in a number of ways.

Here are just a few science-backed health benefits of matcha.

1.) Antioxidants

Matcha is naturally rich in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and prevent cell damage caused by free radicals in the body.

Catechins are a specific type of antioxidant and are one of the main compounds found in matcha, and matcha alone has more than 137x times the amount found in regular green tea.

The antioxidants from green tea and matcha have numerous skin and anti-aging benefits and there is mounting evidence to suggest that adding matcha to your diet could reduce your risk of many different chronic diseases.

2.) Could Help To Prevent Cancer

Green tea extracts such as matcha could potentially also have some anti-cancer benefits. One animal study discovered that green tea extracts were able to slow the development of breast cancer and decrease tumour size in rats.

Additional studies have discovered that EGCG, a catechin found in matcha, could also offer protection against liver, lung, and skin cancer.

3.) Could Help Maintain Good Heart Health

Drinking green tea, which has an almost identical profile to matcha, has long been indicated to possibly help prevent heart disease and maintain heart health.

Studies have found that green teas like matcha can reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body, which is a leading cause of heart disease.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is matcha taste similar to?

Matcha carries a distinctive flavour, reminiscent of a highly concentrated green tea but with a character all its own. The unique processing and preparation of the whole leaf into a powdered form lend matcha its bold flavour profile, which stands apart from other common beverages.

2. Does matcha just taste like green tea?

While originating from the same plant, the experience of sipping matcha is often described as more intense and complex compared to the milder, more delicate nature of regular green tea. The special shading process of the tea plants before harvest enhances the chlorophyll and amino acid content in matcha, contributing to its characteristic flavour.

3. Does matcha taste like coffee?

Matcha and coffee diverge significantly in taste; while coffee has a bold, sometimes acidic or bitter profile, matcha leans towards an earthy, vegetal taste with a sweet undertone, devoid of the bitterness typically associated with coffee.

4. Is matcha latte sweet or bitter?

A matcha latte tends to have a smoother and creamier taste compared to pure matcha due to the addition of milk. The inherent bitterness of matcha can be tempered by the milk and further mellowed if sweeteners or flavoured syrups are added. The level of sweetness or bitterness in a matcha latte can be adjusted according to personal preference by experimenting with different types of milk and sweeteners.

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The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a healthier and more level alternative to your usual morning coffee, matcha is an excellent place to start.

Although it has a unique and somewhat acquired taste, which some describe the taste as vegetal, these can be complemented with milk and flavouring to make matcha more palatable for your individual taste preference.

The science suggests that the benefits are worth it, and your body will thank you!

So, the next time you find yourself reaching for another cup of coffee and thinking it might be a bad idea- try a matcha tea or latte instead and see if you feel the difference!

Just keep in mind that matcha can come in many grades, qualities and purities based on all manner of different sourcing, production and growing practices. Choose a manufacturer that is reputable and experienced to make sure you’re not only getting the best-tasting matcha, but also the healthiest.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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