Brew Guide: Which Flavors Pair the Best With Matcha Tea?
Tea has become more than a drink to many people, transcending basic consumption and creating an entire subculture. Tea has been used for centuries in ceremonies and parties, with generic consumption being more of a modern trait. Nevertheless, tea's popularity has only increased, becoming one of the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide. Most tea drinkers have a preferred blend that they stand by whenever they want a cup, but there are countless types available that make choosing a favorite difficult.
Once you have determined your preferred blend, it might seem like you have nothing more to worry about. However, the tea-drinking experience is just that, an experience. This means many people look to enhance it by ensuring their tea is complemented with other flavors.
Some teas are easier to match than others, but the challenge lies in pairing the rarer teas with deserving flavors. One of the best teas one can drink is matcha, which is not so easily paired, considering its cultural and medicinal significance. Matcha remains one of the most popular and revered teas in the world, but it carries a rather powerful flavor profile. As a result, enjoying matcha with other food and drink is not as simple as it might seem.
Finding the best flavors to pair it with can be extremely difficult but not impossible if you understand the flavor and how it intermingles with others. So, the question becomes: Which flavors pair with matcha tea?
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Matcha is a special variety of tea cultivated from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is also responsible for creating green tea leaves. Matcha is technically a variant of green tea with a more powerful concentration of nutrients than its common cousin. Matcha's higher nutrient content is a result of how the C. sinensis plant is grown, which changes the way the leaves develop. When a C. sinensis plant is grown in the shade, the theanine and caffeine production levels skyrocket, resulting in a more powerful tea leaf.
Aside from these core differences, a matcha leaf is virtually identical to a green tea leaf. That said, matcha is considered the superior leaf since those increased compounds mean a matcha leaf can generate more powerful health benefits. This is not to say that green tea is not an effective supplement, but that matcha tends to be more effective. Unfortunately, none of this information tells us about matcha's flavor.
Most people expect matcha tea to taste like green tea since it comes from the same plant and is essentially the same leaf. This assumption is not completely wrong since matcha is a variant of green tea, but there is a catch. Matcha's flavor is significantly more powerful than traditional green tea, so the flavor surprises green tea drinkers. Matcha starts with a bitter flavor with the first sip, slowly fading into a smooth and semi-sweet finish.
This profile is shared with green tea, but both ends of the profile are more potent and can be overwhelming to people who have only had regular green tea up to this point. Depending on how you prepare your matcha tea, the flavor might shift to accommodate additional flavors (i.e., milk or honey). That said, adding too many extra ingredients or naturally unhealthy additives, like sugar, can disrupt the drink's nutritional value.
Nevertheless, some people need to alter the flavor of matcha to prevent the taste from overwhelming their senses. There are methods for changing matcha tea's flavor profile, but it can also change what pairs well with the drink.
In addition to adding extra flavors to the drink, there is a grading system you must know about if you intend to drink matcha tea. Matcha comes in 3 grades that vary in quality and determine what they are used for. These grades are:
- Ceremonial Grade: Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality matcha and was originally used in Buddhist tea ceremonies. It has the highest nutritional value and is exclusively used for tea.
- Premium Grade: Premium grade matcha is the 2nd best matcha used for tea and is occasionally refined into other products (though this is rare). It has a nutritional value second only to ceremonial matcha and only by a thin margin.
- Culinary Grade: Culinary matcha is the lowest quality matcha and is exclusively used to create matcha-flavored foods. It has the lowest nutritional value and is less valuable than the other 2 grades.
The purer the matcha, the more potent the flavor. This means high-quality matcha will have the most powerful flavor profile, and the lower grade will have a weaker flavor. Regardless, if you want to enjoy matcha with other foods or even pair it with other nutritional substances, you might want to find things that mesh with matcha's flavor.
Matcha & Banana
Despite the powerful flavor profile of matcha, it can be easily overpowered if you add certain ingredients. Your best bet is to use other ingredients or snacks with equally light flavor profiles if you want to enjoy both flavors independently.
Bananas are among the best snacks to have with matcha since the tropical fruit has an equally light flavor profile that can be overpowered. Bananas have a natural sweetness that can help you overcome matcha's initial bitterness. Furthermore, these fruits are extremely malleable and can be refined into smoothies or milkshakes.
Combining them with matcha when making these frozen drinks enables you to enjoy both compounds without compromising their flavor. The best part is that bananas are very filling, meaning you will walk away satisfied after drinking a matcha and banana smoothie. This can help you avoid otherwise unhealthy snacks that might invalidate the nutritional benefits of your tea.
That said, bananas can be enjoyed as a separate snack if you want to keep your matcha tea pure. Adding a banana to your teatime will make the drink less harsh on your taste buds and is healthier than having a muffin or doughnut.
Matcha & Neutral Dairy
While it might not be for everyone, yogurt is a nutritional snack that usually comes with probiotic microorganisms by default. While probiotics benefit our health, they do not affect matcha's flavor profile. The yogurt you select can mesh with matcha tea, assuming you do not get one of the brands oversaturated with sugar. However, frozen yogurt is highly compatible with matcha tea if you want a more indulgent treat.
Traditional frozen yogurt (not the ones with flavors like cookies & cream) is a neutral dairy product that synergizes with matcha's natural flavor profile. Frozen yogurt is just as filling as regular yogurt and will not overpower the tea's flavor. Many dairy products share this neutral flavor; most can accompany matcha tea without interfering with the overall flavor.
Another popular choice for matcha drinkers is milk, commonly used in the United Kingdom and New Zealand to alter tea's flavor. Milk is usually added directly to the tea to reduce bitterness and make the drink smoother. Milk can cut back some of the tea's less pleasant aspects without overpowering its flavor profile. If you want something you can add directly to your next cup, adding a small amount of milk might be the best option (especially if you are not fond of yogurt).
Matcha & White Chocolate
Chocolate is one of the most popular sweet treats in existence, and there are not many people who do not enjoy it. Chocolate, like tea, comes in many forms that people like or dislike, depending on their palate. One of the more popular chocolates in America is white chocolate, which is favored for its sweet flavor.
White chocolate is one of the sweetest chocolates in the world, but the flavor is not so overpowering that it counteracts your other food and drink. Oddly enough, white chocolate and matcha tea go very well together and are something of an unspoken combo that many people indulge in. White chocolate should not be eaten too often since it is still a very sugary snack and can be detrimental to your health if you do not exercise moderation. Still, enjoying a few squares of white chocolate with your matcha tea can help offset the bitter flavor and give you a small treat with your drink.
Some people melt white chocolate down and mix it with matcha powder to create a new drink entirely. While this is a viable option, it can be detrimental to the nutritional value of your tea. Therefore, we recommend only having a single serving of white chocolate as a snack to accompany your matcha tea. Even then, this should be a rare occurrence rather than a regular thing.
Matcha & Butterfly Pea Flowers
Combining different types of tea is not common, but creating a blend that takes advantage of 2 tea-producing plants is possible. C. sinensis is the source of your matcha leaves, but another plant produces a nutritional and exotic tea. The flowers of the Clitoria ternatea plant (also known as butterfly pea) produce a unique tea with a vibrant blue color.
This tea, known as butterfly pea tea, has similar health benefits to matcha and is highly valued. Many do not know that different tea varieties can be safely mixed so their flavors and nutrients can be enjoyed simultaneously. Mixing different types of tea together can be complicated since many have radically different flavor profiles that do not synergize with each other. Fortunately, matcha and butterfly pea tea mix well and produce a hearty drink.
Many people mix these teas together to create a striking purple drink that offers flair and function. In terms of flavor, butterfly pea tea is naturally sweeter than most tea varieties and lacks any processed sugar that might make it a poor addition to your diet.
Mixing butterfly pea tea with matcha tea ensures the latter's bitterness is reduced and replaced with the former's sweetness. This can cause a little extra sweetness when the matcha's flavor profile mellows, but the difference is generally negligible, and the drink is very popular. Furthermore, you can compound the health benefits associated with both teas and enjoy enhanced improvements to your physical health.
Matcha & Lemon
One of the most common additions to a cup of tea is lemon juice, usually freshly squeezed from the fruit. Lemon can add a tang to your drink and curate the tea's flavor so bitterness is less prevalent. Additionally, lemons are extremely healthy and provide nutritional benefits that can rival matcha's. Adding some lemon to your matcha tea will ensure you can enjoy the flavor of your tea with only a mild adjustment.
Citric flavors are usually favored with tea because they suppress bitterness by overpowering the rest of the tea's flavor profile. Insofar as matcha is concerned, lemon can help enhance the grassy notes of the tea. Combining lemon with other natural compounds like mint or honey can reinforce the flavor without drowning it.
Finding the Right Blend
Matcha remains one of the most beloved teas in the world for its nutritional value and classic flavor. While matcha's flavor profile is stronger than normal green tea, usually those with a history of drinking the latter adapt quickly. Adding any of the substances listed in this article can help make the tea go down easier for those who are less adaptable with their palate.
Matcha is more than worth the investment, and it can help improve your health when consumed in moderation. However, the biggest challenge people face is acquiring a blend of matcha powder from a reliable source.
We at Teami love tea and have worked hard to ensure we can provide multiple blends using several varieties. While we do not offer white chocolate or dairy, we can provide you with 2 of the items discussed in this article. First, we have our Matcha Powder Tins, which contain ceremonial grade matcha and even come in 4 flavors (classic, blueberry, chocolate, and mango). Second, we have our Butterfly Tea Blend, which is made with butterfly pea flower petals to produce the beloved blue tea. We encourage you to visit our website and try our teas for yourself. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
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