As winter approaches, a cup of velvety, nutty matcha latte sounds better and better. Matcha comes from the same plant as other green teas, but the plants are shaded for a few weeks prior to harvesting, triggering higher chlorophyll levels and allowing for a stronger concentration of antioxidants in the leaves. The entire leaf, called Tencha, is then ground into a fine powder, leading to greater caffeine and antioxidant content than other types of green tea. Matcha is credited with several health claims, but mostly, it’s delicious.
Matcha tea is available in all its green glory in many coffee shops around town, and span a wide spectrum of flavor, from the ultra-sweet varieties found at chains to the perhaps acquired taste of grassy, earthy flavor profiles. While some argue that matcha grades, such as ceremonial or culinary, are a Western invention used mostly for marketing purposes, the flavors culled from each variety are distinct, much like levels in coffee roasts.