Matcha Latte Battle Royale

No better excuse for preparing a warm beverage than the cold and drizzling days brought by fall.  One could go for the traditional cup of coffee, or a Hot Chocolate maybe. But I have another idea that might catch your attention 😉

Yes it is time to get yourselves acquainted with a really good alternative: the Matcha Latte! And by good I mean better. Far better.

Because something magical happens when you combine  Matcha and Milk!

You won’t be surprised then that  I stocked up for an entire year of the just-add–water Matcha Latte powders during my visit to Japan in may, allowing me  to give  some guidance in the different brands that bring Matcha Latte to the masses. I will compare them based on a couple of parameters  and wrap up by disclosing my favorite one, so you will know which one to buy! 🙂

The contestants
Matcha Latte Products

From left to right we have:

  • Matcha Milk powder by ItoEn, a Japanese Multinational specializing in Tea production. I drank a lot of their ready-in-a-bottle Green Tea with no added sugars like this one here. Something very obvious in Japan, but a lot harder to get in Belgium…
  • The little box is in  fact pure matcha powder from Kyoto by Marukyu Koyamaen. This way I can show you what undiluted matcha powder looks like in comparison
  • Blendy Stick must be one of the most popular Japanese brands specialised in all sorts of powdered drinks. No way they could miss out on the Matcha flavour!
  • GreenMax Matcha Milk is the odd duck in the lot. It’s a Taiwanese product that I added so we can compare this “foreign” product with the quality we get from the Japanese ones
  • Nestlé, known mostly from their Kit-Kats, also has a stick based Matcha Latte offering
  • Last, but certainly not least, we have Matcha Milk powder brought to us by Kataoka, another big tea name that distributes western teas like Twinnings in Japan. They have Matcha Milk powder with Matcha from the famous Tsujiri tea house. Is it worthy of using that name?

Packaging

We can start the comparison with the obvious fact that part of the products come in bulk, while the others bring the extra convenience of having portions that are just fit to prepare one cup.

Matcha Latte Sticks

If you are planning to prepare  your Matcha Latte at work or school, the above are the practical option.

On the other hand the bulk product probably gives you more Matcha for your money.

Calories

Following the logic that extra calories are introduced through either more sugar or more milk powder, I think the product with the least calories per gram contains the most matcha and can be considered superior:

  • ItoEn: 3,9 Kcal
  • GreenMax: 4,25 Kcal
  • Kataoka: 4,4 Kcal
  • Blendy Stick: 4,8 Kcal
  • Nestlé: 5,5 Kcal

On the other hand, the Nestlé  portions are only 5,6 grams, resulting in about half the calories per cup when compared to the others.  Not sure what to make of that yet, but I’ll let the taste be the judge later on.

Eyes & nose

When you think Matcha you think radiant green and a really nice leafy smell. But what do these Matcha Latte powders actually look & smell like?

Matcha Powder Bulk

From left to right we have Nestlé, Blendy Stick, GreenMax & Kataoka. On the next line there’s ItoEn and the pure Matcha powder for comparison’s sake.

One would expect several shades of green, but what actually came out of the GreenMax bag was quite astonishing. The brownish powder is actually nothing more than sugar crystals with no apparent trace of matcha to be found. Only after tasting do you detect a very small amount of it, but it’s pretty sad really.

Adding smell to the equation, I came to the following picking order:

  • None of them compare to the actual pure Matcha powder, which is to be expected of course
  • Nestlé & Blendy Stick look the greenest and have the most powerful Matcha smell
  • Kataoka is somewhere in the middle ground on all counts
  • ItoEn has a more milky smell (also given away by the colour) but there’s still some matcha to be found
  • GreenMax next to the aweful colour…stinks
Let’s taste!

For this comparison I chose to prepare cold Matcha Lattes using a shaker, ice cubes and the actual powder of course. this is what the final result looks like:

Matcha Latte Prepared

I was expecting the picking order to stay roughly the same, but adding water triggers some chemistry that brings out some new elements. Here’s what my girlfriend and I came up with after extensive tasting:

  1. Kataoka’s Matcha Latte is clearly our favorite. It’s not too sweet &  the Matcha taste is refined. Very nice indeed!
  2. Next would be Blendy Stick. A bit sweeter and stronger tasting, it’s a close second. I think it’s really impressive that a big brand like this one still achieves to make a product that stands out next to the smaller, more specialised ones
  3. Nestlé had a weird side taste that I can’t really place. I think that it might be artificial sweeteners that also result in the lower overall calory count. Crave for some Matcha Latte while on a diet? This would be a great option 🙂
  4. ItoEn didn’t really make it for us. It’s too sweet and very watery.
  5. Last and clearly least is GreenMax. To be honest we would advise no one to buy this, based on all parameters above. It’s clearly an inferior product.
And the winner is…

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Tsujiri is a brand that stands for the best quality Matcha products. Their Matcha Latte is no exception to that, so whenever you see this in a shop you should go for it!

I’d like to finish up by thanking you for reading this far and inviting you to comment below.

And before I forget: Matcha Latte goes really well together with soy milk too! Try it out! And tell us about it 🙂

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