Matcha is the new “it” drink the US—and for good reason. It’s packed with antioxidants, cancer-fighting amino acids, and all the energy of a cup of coffee without the harmful caffeine overdose.
The only question now isn’t, “Should I drink matcha tea?” but “Do I want it hot or iced?” To answer that, let’s take a brief look at what matcha is and how it’s made.
What Exactly is Matcha?
Traditionally, matcha tea has always been prepared in a single style that dates from 12th century Japan—brewed hot from a fine powder, using a simple bamboo whisk. That simple recipe remained unchanged for eight centuries. However, tea houses in New York and L.A. are challenging exactly what matcha can be, and the results are pretty cool. Literally.
How Is Iced Matcha Different?
Classic iced matcha is still technically the same as regular “hot” matcha, because it’s brewed using the same ingredients—fine-grained matcha powder, hot water, a bowl, and a whisk. The only added ingredient is ice (still technically water), and it’s added after the matcha powder is brewed.
Matcha recipes call for a precise matcha powder / water ratio, so this extra water is actually a big departure from traditional preparation techniques. Iced matcha tends to dilute the strong umami taste of the tea, making it a milder drink for first-time matcha drinkers (while making it easier for enthusiasts to drink larger quantities of matcha throughout the day).
The Growth of Iced Matcha
However, some matcha bars in the US don’t just add ice to their iced matcha recipes. Ingredients like almond milk, sugar, honey, chocolate, and even alcohol have found their way into iced matcha drinks, and new recipes are popping up every day.
Another twist with cold matcha drinks is adding quality ceremonial-grade matcha powder directly to the ice and shaking or blending it into a chilled or smoothie style tea-flavored drink. This technique usually requires additional ingredients and sweeteners and is a major departure from traditional matcha.
Matcha tea—in all its forms—is everywhere these days. Whether you like it hot, iced, thick, thin, or in a Starbucks latte, the most important ingredient is high-quality matcha powder. Start with quality matcha and the only ingredient you’ll ever need is water.