It all started last year during a family road trip. It was our second early start, our last leg before arriving home. The kids were happily fueling up with drive-through McDonald’s, T was sipping his McD’s coffee and staring moodily at the road (which is what he does), and I was suffering from in-the-car-too-long grogginess. I’d abandoned coffee ages ago, when I finally realized that even just one cup of the stuff in the morning would rev me up like a sweaty butterfly, made me ragingly hypoglycemic and a chronic insomniac. But very recently, I’d experimented with green tea, and found that a little dose in the morning with steamed milk provided me with a big, warm mug of something to start the day. Plus, it seems to be a perfect level of caffeine for me – a gentle buzz that doesn’t keep me up at night.
So, there we were speeding along somewhere near Birmingham when I spotted a Starbucks sign on a Barnes and Noble, in one of those new, monster-sized strip malls that are so strategically located near the interstate. That’s where I ordered my first Green Tea Latte. I thought it was horribly sweet, with a faintly earthy, leafy taste, but I sucked the whole thing down anyway. A few days later, I found myself craving another one, and actually got in my car and drove to Starbucks to get my fix. But being the investigative cook that I am, I asked the latte maker (would that be a Lattista?) how they made it, and it turned out to be a Tazo syrup, made with some matcha, honeydew flavor (maybe to help disguise the very green taste – I’m sure some people just hate that) and a ton of sugar, which gets mixed with milk.
I don’t like the idea of buying boxes of over-sweetened syrup and then becoming addicted to it, or giving Starbucks my bucks, so I’ve devised my own system of preparing my daily green tea latte. I went out and got a tiny box of matcha, which is fairly expensive, like 16 bucks for one ounce. But, it turns out that you don’t really need much. And it’s an unbelievably gorgeous shade of pure green.
I use about a 1/2 teaspoon in my tea infuser along with some loose green tea leaves that I buy at Teavana or online at Teasource. I heat some milk for 30 seconds in the microwave, and froth it with my battery-operated latte thing-ee (the AeroLatte, to be more specific), and sweeten with some raw sugar.
Matcha seems to have very, very good health benefits, in addition to giving Mommy a fix. This is from health guru Dr. Weil, from drweil.com:
In addition to providing trace minerals and vitamins (A, B-complex, C, E, and K), matcha is rich in catechin polyphenols, compounds with high antioxidant activity. These compounds offer protection against many kinds of cancer, help prevent cardiovascular disease and slow the aging process. They also reduce harmful cholesterol in the blood, stabilize blood sugar levels, help reduce high blood pressure and enhance the body’s resistance to many toxins. Matcha also has a significant amount of dietary fiber and practically no calories.
Also, I just read something about how those good old polyphenols in green tea can actually kill cold and flu viruses. Cool! Maybe I should start adding some to A and J’s morning juice. But how to disguise the unappetizing shade of army green that would result? Hmmmm, I’ll have to think about that one.