By: Yuri Nesen
Photos By: Lauren Hyun & Yuri Nesen
Matcha is the green tea powder taking over the country one cafe at a time. Some wellness trends, such as juice cleanses, in my humble opinion, do not deserve the hype they get, but matcha definitely deserves the attention it’s been getting in wellness and culinary circles as a versatile alternative to coffee drinks with many health benefits.
Over the summer, I worked at Maman, a cafe, bakery, and restaurant in New York City that serves different matcha-related items, from matcha lattes to matcha rose lemonade and matcha filled croissants. This is where I was introduced to the world of matcha and instantly fell in love with the tea for the combination of relaxation and sustained caffeine energy it provides without the jittery effects of coffee.
Matcha is specially grown and processed in a way that produces amino acids, which promote relaxation. Unlike green tea, which is steeped in water, matcha is incorporated into water, meaning that you consume the whole leaf and are able to absorb more antioxidants into your system. Because of these benefits, you can drink matcha – by itself or in latte form – or enjoy it in dessert form – whether that be in donuts or ice cream – for a healthy and antioxidant-packed treat.
If you’re looking to bring matcha into your life this fall, here is a guide of the top six local matcha spots to try.
Baked & Wired
If you’re making a stop at this neighborhood cupcake institution, be sure to try out their matcha latte. The drink is on the sweeter side and automatically comes with steamed soy milk. It has a higher milk to matcha ratio, which makes for a foamier latte. The heart-shaped latte art is a nice little bonus too!
If you’re looking for a pick-me up before that 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. lecture (I’m sorry), stop by one of the Corp locations on campus to pick up a matcha latte and avoid the mid-lecture snooze.
Kung Fu Tea
Bubble tea has to be the most fun drink out there. Kung Fu Tea offers matcha bubble tea and allows you to customize it by choosing toppings like bubbles, oreo, or mango jelly and adjusting the sweetness.
Grace Street Coffee
If you prefer your matcha lattes unsweetened, then be sure to take a break from Lau and move over to Grace Street Coffee, a cafe with plenty of natural lighting and friendly baristas, off Wisconsin.
Out of Neighborhood: Bon Matcha
Nested in a cute green stand half a mile away from Dupont Circle, Bon Matcha is the essential DC matcha haven that is definitely worth the GUTS bus round trip. They serve several matcha drinks, but are known for their soft serve matcha ice cream, made with high-quality matcha imported from Kyoto, Japan – the birthplace of the green tea powder. I went with the matcha-walnut soft serve swirl, their seasonal flavor, and must say it was truly divine. Neither flavor overpowers the other, and the matcha’s subtle bitterness pairs insanely well with the walnut ice cream’s nuttiness. Swirled together in a crunchy sugar cone, these two flavors are a match-a made in heaven.
Out of Neighborhood: Hana Mart
In this Japanese specialty shop, which also lies half a mile away from Dupont Circle, you’ll find matcha-flavored kit-kats, Pocky Sticks, cheesecake, ice cream, drinks, and most importantly, matcha itself with matcha sets (bowl, spoon, and whisk). Be sure to get yourself some matcha; organize a DIY matcha tea ceremony with friends or make yourself some matcha lattes from the comfort of your dorm or common room. You can also get creative and incorporate matcha into different recipes such as matcha granola.