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Claire said

"You can't make Matcha if it's not a latte"

Steepsters, I just have to share this story with you because I know you will appreciate it. I usually bring my own tea to school and refill my thermos with free hot water from the dining area. Today was an abnormally early day for me and I forgot to bring my own tea, so I went to the little Peet’s on campus. While in line, I saw an advertisement for their all new “matcha lattes”. So when I got up to the counter, I asked for some black tea in my thermos (Assam golden tips, not too bad), and then asked if they could make me matcha without the frothed milk. The girl blinked at me in confusion, and then said “well, matcha is a powder.” I said “right.” Then she said to me “So you can’t make matcha if it’s not a latte.”

What to do Steepsters? The line was very long behind me, and I figured since there was a good possibility she wouldn’t care about why that statement isn’t true, I just said “okay thanks, just the black tea then.”

Now I am wondering what she actually thinks matcha is, or if she thinks matcha is the ancient art of green tea lattes…

23 Replies

Wow, I always want to educate when this happens but often times I never have the chance. Mostly because of the same reason you stated plus I’m in a rush. Still when I do have the chance I always just give them a heads up and kindly of course. Though I am sure they probably feel I am crazy and just want me to move on.

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Lala said

When I was in University there was a little coffee kiosk on campus that advertised free hot water. For 5 years, I, as well as many friends, would make a stop to get hot water for the tea we had brought from home. Then in the 6th year we were told by a new employee that the “free” hot was was for paying customers only.

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rantHappy said

How sure are you that it was “real” matcha? Some of the places I’ve been to, it’s just flavored powders that they mix.

Some of the people I’ve met at different cafes are worrying though. If you ask them to do something that deviates from their training, it can’t be done.

Claire said

I have no idea rantHappy – they did advertise it as matcha, but who knows with American food.

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I recently stopped at a Jugo Juice, and asked if they could still add matcha to their smoothies. The girl at the till didn’t seem clear on what I meant, so I said, “Matcha powder? Do you still have it?” At which point she ostentatiously corrected me – it’s green tea powder. That’s what it’s called.

ChaMei select said

I think products exist that are ground up non-specific green tea whereas true matcha specifically refers to shade-grown Japanese green tea variety. So I suppose a green tea powder may not be matcha gyokuro or otherwise, unless the term has been reaproppriated to mean something more generic.

cuppaT said

If ChaMei had repeated this astute statement to Daniel’s counterperson, her head would undoubtedly have exploded.

ChaMei – thank you for the info! I kinda have always suspected that to be the case, but I wasn’t sure. Although Jugo Juice’s “Green Tea Buzz” apparently used to be called “Mighty Matcha.” Who knows if they changed it because it’s not actually matcha, or because customers didn’t know what it was, so they didn’t order it…

cuppaT – most likely! She definitely didn’t seem to recognize the word “matcha,” and seemed deeply annoyed that I didn’t know the right thing to call it.

I’ve also had various Jugo Juice employees tell me NOT to put matcha in a smoothie (even a MANGO smoothie!) because, “It’s not going to taste good.” They were very earnest about explaining that green tea tastes bad, see.

Only powder made from tencha (same process as gyokuro) is called matcha. Otherwise it’s just powdered green tea. Matcha is more expensive, so sometimes you may be getting powdered sencha instead, called funmatsucha in Japan.

I’ve had a powdered Sencha (openly labeled as such too) never knew what the Japanese term was. thanks!

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I had unflavored matcha at the toronto tea festival this weekend.. i don’t know if i’ll care for flavored matcha ever again

I’m concerned about trying any flavored matcha, as I have only ever had the unflavored stuff for decades.

Up until about 4 months ago I had never tried a flavored matcha. I never plan to try one again. It was disgusting, & in my opinion, a sacrilege. I love my matcha plain, whisked in hot water. What could be more perfect?

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I find this sad and funny at the same time. Of course the person selling the matcha only knows what she’s been told because this is her job not her interest. Would be nice if salespeople knew what they were selling of course. :)

Reminds me of the times slip up and order matcha lattes at Starbucks. The register person and I blink confusedly at each other until I remember they don’t know that they are using matcha to make the green tea lattes. :)

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I’m so not surprised at this story at all. I don’t talk much about growing up with unflavored matcha to much of anyone, even tea enthusiasts, because of the americanization of the product(and assumptions).

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Alphakitty said

That’s kind of ridiculous! I worked as a barista at a small coffee house, and if someone requested a drink that I didn’t know how to make (or something not on the menu) policy was to ask them how to make it and, if we could, whip one up! I suppose working with a long line would make this a bit difficult, especially in a high-pressure situation.

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What a mean question haha. Making matcha requires a whisk which they clearly wouldn’t have unless you wanted cold matcha via water bottle method which is just meh.

Alphakitty said

I had a whisk at my coffee shop, you can also use the steamer on water to mix it up. And many places have drink shakers (a la Starbuck’s shaken lemonade). A pretty reasonable request, they should have more than enough tools to accomplish it.

I stand corrected. I suppose you have a point. I didn’t think a steamer would work and that it would get quite lumpy.

Alphakitty said

I’ve actually used a steamer for other powdered drinks (not matcha in particular) and you’d be amazed at how much it mixes things in as well. They’re quite the powerhouse on an industrial strength machine!

Claire said

yappychappy – my intention was not to be mean. I figured if they had a frother, they could do it. If you get matcha at a teavana they use a frother to make it.

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Claire said

Wow, this thread got a lot of attention while I was at work! Here’s the text from Peet’s website and a link if anyone is interested:
“Matcha Green Tea Latte – NEW
Distinctively pure Japanese Matcha delicately steamed with milk and your choice of simple or vanilla syrup. Also available unsweetened.”
http://www.peets.com/stores/tea_menu.asp

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