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Horror Story: Does Anyone At This School Know What Matcha Is?

Breaking news: matcha is not green milk.

It seems as if recently matcha, which is a traditional Japanese green tea, has really caught on in America. On campus, it’s offered at Joe’s, Peet’s, Liz’s(??), and other coffee shops. You can have it warm in a hot matcha latte, or cold in an iced matcha latte. But every single matcha latte I’ve had at this school, and yes, I would go as far as to say IN THIS COUNTRY, has tasted terrible.

I was waiting in line at Peet’s a few days ago, and because I suddenly had an ill craving for matcha–that sweet yet bitter, rich and aromatic, COMPLEX taste–I debated trying their matcha latte. I remember having a sip of it last year when a friend ordered it, raving about how good it was. Good it was not. Maybe things have changed? I had high hopes–how hard is it to make a matcha latte? Most places use pre-packaged matcha powder, and then baristas just do their magic and make it into a latte, right? WRONG. As I was having this internal debate, the girl right before me ordered a hot matcha latte. Perfect!! I ask her if she recommends the matcha lattes at Peet’s. She says that they’re reaaaallly good, the iced ones included. Great! I get to have my iced matcha latte on this hot day! I order it, wait an absurd amount of time for this so-called delicious matcha latte, and when I finally take a sip, my entire body cringes. It tasted like syrup with hot milk. Literally anyone who has ever had matcha before will drink that and tell you that whatever it is, it’s NOT matcha. Yet again, I am let down by another “matcha latte” in this country.

Imagine this: It’s 5:30 pm, I just got out of computer science office hours. I finally understand my assignment and I’m about to submit it, using only 18 of my 170 late hours. I am very proud of myself. I hadn’t eaten since lunch, and although I am not hungry, my mouth is feeling a little dry. I go to Joe’s and I browse the menu, and I see that they have a matcha latte. A matcha latte! After the abhorrent experience I had a few days ago, do I take a risk? The answer is yes, ALWAYS take risks. So I go to the counter and I order my matcha. The cashier asks me if a want a small or a large. I always feel pressured when I get asked this question because I always feel like a large is probably more worth it. I go with the large. I take my first sip and…it tastes like warm milk. If I closed my eyes and couldn’t see the green color, I would believe that I was a child drinking microwaved milk that my mom made me drink because I couldn’t go to sleep. Yes, I just spent 6 REAL AMERICAN DOLLARS on heated up milk.

These are just my experiences on campus. I have had similar experiences countless cafés in this city. I am so tired of people saying that they LOVE matcha, and then they bring me to an “AMAAAZING MATCHA PLACE”, and the drink tastes nothing like how it’s supposed to. If you are going to take something that is so traditionally Japanese and incorporated in rituals such as tea ceremonies, something that is essential to Japanese culture, and make it into another fashionable food trend, at least DO IT RIGHT. PLEASE.

These are some matcha places I do recommend: Cha An and The Chipped Cup.

what matcha actually looks like via Pexels

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  • gibby from icarly says:

    @gibby from icarly finally some common sense around these parts. thanks for the recs!

  • Rick P. says:

    @Rick P. If the American students love the Americanized matcha from the American coffee coffee shop, why change what they claim is “reaaaallly good”… why don’t you just go to Cha An and The Chipped Cup?

    Similarly, I currently live in the Philippines. And Filipinos love spaghetti and marinara sauce, and their sauce is like ketchup with even more sugar. BUT, that’s the way Filipinos like it across all 7000 islands here. So if an Italian tourist wants real Italian spaghetti and marinara… I would suggest they go to a real Italian restaurant.

  • Dell says:

    @Dell Come to Laurel, MS, of all places, and I promise you a real Matcha experience at Lee’s Coffee and Tea. Ask for Dell, and I’ll make it for you, personally.

  • Zed Officious says:

    @Zed Officious I honestly just order matcha from Japan online. But, you might try looking for a third wave coffee shop in your area. Where I am in California there are many hipster cafes that take pride in serving actual unadulterated matcha. They use a bamboo whisk and everything. I personally think they use too much matcha per serving and don’t whisk it enough but they won’t let me do it myself. Anyway good luck.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous IT is true.. terrible taste

  • KB says:

    @KB Cha Cha matcha in NYC. Quite a few variations there and they actually whisk it which is more than most can say!

  • Carol LB Ferrer says:

    @Carol LB Ferrer I buy Matcha from and make my latte’s at home. I make mine with hot water. I buy the mix with some sugar. I occasionally buy them at Starbucks but really prefer mine from home. Carry it with me when I travel.

  • Tania Maldonado says:

    @Tania Maldonado 👋hello
    Enjoyed the read very much! It is frustrating to go to a cafe, order a matcha, and be disappointed not only by the drink but by the way in which the cafe believes that the matcha they are serving is exceptional.
    I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Japan myself and indulge in one of their ceremonies but I’ve certainly done plenty of research and watched countless videos of the authentic preparation.

    I’ve recently opened up a matcha online store and I also participate in local farmers markets in my hometown of El Paso.
    I carry an exceptional grade of matcha that I would love to share with you.

    Tania Maldonado

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