Move over, black coffee—matcha, the electric-green Japanese tea, is getting the single-subject treatment at cafés and popping up on restaurant menus all over town.
What the hell is it?
That vibrant green powder in your morning mug is stone-ground and comes from the topmost leaves in Japan’s green-tea harvest. But it’s not steeped like a standard loose-leaf. Instead, it’s whisked into hot or cold water and treated like espresso—i.e., turned into cappucinos and iced lattes.
Why is it so popular?
With about two thirds the caffeine but none of the acidity of coffee, matcha offers a creamy, smooth alternative to the standby pick-me-up. Plus, its slow-release qualities means your energy boost will last through lunch instead of fizzling out after breakfast.
So what should I order?
Brothers Max and Graham Fortgang test-drive newfangled green-tea numbers at MatchaBar, adding cold-pressed Fuji-apple juice to cups of whisked matcha ($4.60) and cinnamon-spiced steamed hemp milk to matcha lattes ($4.60). You can also find matcha cortados ($4) at the West Village’s Chalait and tea shots (2.50) at Matcha Cafe Wabi in the East Village.
If you’re overwhelmed by options and unsure what to pick, go with your gut: If you like espresso macchiatos, a “matchiato” will likely strike your fancy.
I’m hooked. Where can I get more?
Restaurants across the city are also catching on, adding tea-tinged dishes to their menus. On his retooled $175 tasting menu at Momofuku Ko, David Chang dusts the green stuff atop a rye mille-feuille, stuffed with trout roe and béchamel.
For a more wallet-friendly fix, the folks at Doughnut Plant lace cake doughnuts with the powder and slather them in a green-tea glaze ($3.25). MatchaBar is even working on a green-tea–infused ice cream in conjunction with OddFellows. We can already see the lines forming.