Adventures in Matcha

Coffee is my first love

Coffee and I have had an on and off relationship for a while now. I used to drink 2 or more cups a day in my early 20’s, which dwindled to a firm one cup rule and always before 12 pm. But now I really feel it negatively impacts me. I’ve noticed that it can make me jittery, lose my appetite, and worst of all sweat profusely. It sometimes also affects my sleep, even if I drink it in the morning. When I’m on holiday I tend to handle caffeine a lot better than in my usual day to day.

The first cup of matcha

In the past I have just switched to decaf - a swiss water process decaffeinated whole bean option. But on a recent holiday to New Zealand, I finally tried a delicious matcha latte at a vegan restaurant. But it wasn't love at first sip! The first cup I thought just tasted like a grassy powder suspended in nut milk, I had to add a spoonful of coconut sugar to make it more palatable. But strangely the next day I was wanting to have it again. Combine that with being on holiday, catching up with friends and family which resulted in at least two coffees per day, I was overloaded. The rough, acidic taste of my usual cup of bean water just didn't appeal (I drink my coffee black).

 I drunk coffee for so many years but found it started to negatively affect me more and more.

I drunk coffee for so many years but found it started to negatively affect me more and more.

Apart from that first inaugural cup, I haven't sweetened my matcha since. The homemade fresh nut milk at the restaurant probably played a big part in my new love of matcha. In my opinion, it goes great with a slightly creamy nutty base instead of plain water. So once I arrived back in Canada the experiments started to try and nail a matcha recipe that hit all the marks for me. What’s important to me: taste, dairy free, sugar-free, mouthfeel/creaminess, cost-effective, fast and easy to prepare in the morning. This pretty much ruled out making my own nut milk, I ain't got time for that.

Playing with matcha at home

The first thing I tried was “Let’s do organic Creamed Coconut” - this comes in a hard block but when melted it’s a creamy coconut butter that I usually buy and use in curries. It was a fail, the coconut is definitely not fine enough and the result was really gritty - it was a mouthfeel fail.

The second try was just using coconut milk from a can, these usually have a lot fewer additives than a carton or bottle of nut or coconut milk. I picked up a Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk - the full-fat variety. Before using it has to be re-blended because it separates in the can due to the lack of said additives. This was a solid contender because it was smooth drinking but I just didn't get much of a coconut flavour despite it being just coconut. Maybe the flavour would have been stronger if I just used the solid part of the coconut cream from the can.

 Trying this fancy brand of matcha took my home concoction to the next level.

Trying this fancy brand of matcha took my home concoction to the next level.

The next option was inspired by all of the cashew coffee I’ve seen on Instagram. So I blended a handful of raw cashews with hot water into a quick creamy nut milk - no straining required. The first time it was still kind of gritty, the bottom of my mug was a super thick liquid but I did enjoy the nutty taste. Next time I tried the same thing but with two teaks, I soaked the cashews in boiling water for about an hour while I cooked and ate breakfast. Then I blended for a full minute and a half, my new Vitamix has a timer showing so it made this part pretty easy. The result was a much smoother and creamier version, blending for longer definitely makes a big difference. The creamy, nutty flavour was spot on and balances out the grassy teaspoon of matcha.

I also considered but didn’t try regular almond milk from the store or NutPods which could both be solid options. I have also just procured Artisana coconut butter, which has been described as a very smooth and fine blended coconut so that will be my next try - Nutiva also makes a coconut manna that makes a good and slightly cheaper option. The matcha experiments continue. Can you tell I really want to nail a coconutty matcha blend? Have you tried matcha? What’s your opinion on the green, grassy, tea-like taste?