There’s a new latte in town. Hugo Tea has introduced matcha (ground green tea) to the market and several area coffee shops (the three Filling Stations, Mildred’s Coffeehouse, One More Cup and Take Five Coffee Bar) are making iced matcha lattes.
The Recommended Daily exchanged e-mails with Hugo Tea owner Tyler Beckett to learn more about why the sweet, creamy cool drink could be a hot ticket in KC this summer.
1. For someone who has never had it, could you describe the drink? Matcha is premium, micro-ground green tea. The shops are using the matcha to make iced matcha lattes (though matcha can be prepared hot as well.) We mix it with milk and sugar and it’s creamy, sweet, mildly grassy, and quite refreshing for the summer.
2. What led you to begin offering matcha? Matcha lattes are popular in other parts of the country–but I never considered it. Then a Chinese friend of mine who runs an organic tea farm in Zhejiang, China, convinced me that we could do it right. We talked it over while I was in China this spring. So we special ordered some premium, organic matcha made for us, by our specifications. Then I had to convince the local shops that it was something worth doing this summer. They all loved it after tasting it. It’s something different, and it’s easy to make. It allows shops to make complex, artful, competition-worthy beverages out of a base other than coffee.
3. What do you look for with matcha? Good matcha is sweet and smooth without being overly grassy–much like good green tea. Color is the most obvious determinant of quality; higher quality matcha is a dark, vibrant green, like ours. And, like all of our products, our matcha is certified organic–which means it’s grown without pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Another note: our matcha is harvested in the spring. This is the best season for matcha.
4. Can you talk a bit about how you put the matcha lattes together? We wanted the matcha lattes to bring out the best qualities of our matcha–sweet, subtly grassy, with some complex umami flavors–while also making a drink that is refreshing. The refreshing bit took some playing around.
For example, if the drink is make with only milk and matcha, then it ends up being a bit too creamy and it sits on your pallet too long. So we add a few parts water to thin it out. It dulls the sweetness and gives it the ability to quench thirst a bit more. People keep telling me that they can’t help but chug them (rather than sip them)–this is a good thing, because it shows me that we met that balance of rich flavor and drinkability.
5. Have you thought about any pairings or what you might eat with it? The sweetness of a matcha latte pairs well for lighter, simple foods, like bread or rice-heavy dishes.[Images via Hugo Tea]