Top 5: Matcha Lattes in LondonBy Maria Bell
For true Londoners it’s our morning lattes (and not TFL) that gets us into work every morning. But it’s time for the columbian ground and pumpkin spiced to move on out, it’s all about healthy, matcha green tea lattes for 2015.
In Japan and some areas of the US matcha lattes are already staples, even Starbucks sell them *groan*. However it’s taken a little longer for us Brits to get in on the trend and although matcha has been creeping its way into our health consciousness for awhile, it’s only fairly recently that I’ve begun to see matcha lattes stake their well-deserved claim in London’s coffee houses.
For anyone who doesn’t know that much about it, matcha is a powered form of green tea made by grinding up the entire leaf, making it the most highly concentrated and sought after form you can get. Think the Meryl Streep of green tea. Because of this high concentration its health benefits are on another level. Just a tiny amount is packed full of the things that your body needs to be happy and healthy, including an extremely high level of antioxidants (more precisely a flavanoid called EPCG) and energy and concentration boosting amino acids called L-Thenanine. It’s even been said to speed up metabolism and reduce stress.
But when you’re pounding the ice-cold pavement at 7am I get that it takes something special to knock that coffee out of your hand. With matcha lattes you have all the creamy goodness of your regular latte, the distinct but delicious taste of matcha, a caffeine hit and a load of added benefits for your body. It’s a win, win.
However, after recently travelling to Japan I realised that some places in London haven’t quite got the hang of it all yet. While things always come down to personal preference, for me the perfect matcha latte is not too bitter, not too sweet and has the distinct matcha taste rather than resembling hot, green, sugary milk. Thankfully there are some absolute gems in the capital, so if you want to get into matcha, these are the 5 places in London that really stand out.
What: Good Life Eatery has the matcha latte down. It has the perfect balance between the distinct matcha taste and enough sweetness to be really drinkable. The kind of drinkable where you’d sacrifice burning your entire mouth you want it that badly. You’re also offered the choice of almond, soy or regular milk right from the moment you order, which saves any disappointment. Plus the cafe is open from a spritely 7:30AM so it’s perfect for some pre-work revitalisation. Just FYI, you happen to be drinking in West London’s top health spot so if you can, then make the most of their incredible menu too.
What: The cafe itself is fairly minimal (kind of like a gallery – who would have thought?) but everything from the drinks to the decor are completely on-point. Gallery doesn’t mess about frills and quirks like some coffee houses do but gets straight to the good stuff with exceptional hot beverages and their matcha is no exception. It’s probably the most reasonably priced at only £2.80 and manages to pull off the bitter matcha taste without being too grassy or and is sweet enough without being too overly milky. The best bit is that you can even sign up to a Matcha Masterclass here and learn everything from making your own lattes to including matcha in smoothies and juices.
Where: 51 Margaret Street, Fitzrovia.
What: Think of Notes as your matcha training ground. A couple of goes here and you’ll be ready to roll on to the strong stuff. As matcha’s go it’s fairly sweet (which is why it’s a great place for your first taste) but is still absolutely delicious and again, a great price. Both Notes cafes are just off from the chaos of Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square and on the right side of sophisticated that you don’t feel intimidated just popping in for a latte. It’s worth noting (couldn’t help it) that this is actually a wine bar too, so if you really want to complete your health-kick… a glass of red a day and all that.
The other close contender for this spot was Hally’s in Parson’s Green. I ruled it out for being overly sweet but if that’s your preference then it definitely deserves a mention.
What: Although Timberyard has award-winning coffee, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of place easily explained by it’s locations – Old Street and Seven Dials. Fortunately I happen to fall into the first category. It’s the most expensive of all the matchas I’ve tried at £3.40 but you do get what you pay for and more; the matcha is fantastic and comes with your own bottle of ice-cold water and more importantly, free wifi.
As with most good things there is a downside. Although you can Instagram that latte-art almost instantly, it does mean that everywhere you look there are people in business meetings or typing and skyping, which is fine if you’re freelancing but if you’re sat there alone stuffing in cake after gluten-free cake, does come with a certain amount of guilt. I’m sure, like me, you can get over it.
What: I’m a sucker for crockery and in this area, Lagu wins. The matcha latte itself is smooth and pretty sweet but topped off with an extra sprinkling of matcha powder on top for a well-needed kick. Although it is a little out of the way, Lagu is one of the only authentic Japanese cafe/restaurants that is open during the weekends AND during the day on weekdays, which is really the main reason why I’ve included it over any other typically Japanese experience. It also has some really cute touches including a free library of books, serene house plants and a Japanese health shop within the restaurant as well as a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. Little tip, try their bento box, it’s delicious.
Header image and thumbnail image from Peace Love Shea