The Matcha Latte Factor


Woohoo!  Today marks the two-year anniversary of MrTakoEscapes!  Yes, I’ve been blogging for two full years now!  With 206 posts published, I figured somebody would have tried to stop me by now!

In celebration of this personal milestone, I decided to take a little break from my usual posts and celebrate with the ultimate in decadent beverages… a matcha latte.

What’s a matcha latte you ask?

 

A Drink From Japan

Matcha is a form of very dark green tea usually grown in Japan for traditional tea ceremonies.  Apparently the leaves are grown in the shade before being harvested, which gives it a strong flavor and a super dark-green color.  It’s fantastic stuff!

On our recent trip to Japan I had the opportunity to discover this amazing beverage… and OMG was it delicious.  The combination of bitter matcha and sweetened milk form a creamy beverage that’s a incredibly luxurious drinking experience.

After having experienced this wonderful drink in Japan, I absolutely had to try to recreate one back home.

tea ceremony
Traditionally, matcha is used as part of the Japanese tea ceremony.  In that form, it’s quit bitter.

This unique tea has now transformed into a staple of Japanese cuisine — You can find it in cookies, potato chips, ice cream, cakes, chocolates, and even drinks.  Unfortunately finding quality matcha in the States is no easy task.  The best places to find it are either at your local asian grocery store, or on Amazon… but it’s expensive.

I use Maeda “Culinary Quality” matcha, which is a little less expensive than the ceremonial variety, but still extremely flavorful.  Be careful of numerous fakes on Amazon.  Regular ground-up green tea is not matcha.

(Holiday Tip: Matcha makes a great holiday stocking stuffer for the foodie in your life!)

matcha
Culinary matcha is strong enough for drinking.  Trust me, this stuff is extremely powerful!

I use about a teaspoon for a large 12 oz. mug.  You could go to two teaspoons, but you might start seeing green dragons or other weird shit… so take it easy, OK cowboy?

matcha

The powder is then whisked vigorously into a small amount of hot water.  You don’t want matcha clumps, so more whisking is better here.

matcha wisking
My mini-whisk gets the job done…

When it’s fully whisked, you’ll get this heavenly green concoction that seems…. almost alive as the green colors swirl together.

matcha ready

Next is the sweetened milk.  If I want an extra creamy experience, I go for half-n-half.  It’s extra decadent!

I mix around 1-2 tablespoons worth of sugar into the milk.  Sweetness is a personal preference, but I like my matcha a little stronger.

Then heat the sweet-milk mixture in the microwave (be careful not to boil it).  If you enjoy a foamy latte, now’s the time to bust out that electric whisk.

milk wisking
Mmmm…. foam!

Gently combine the two elements and the matcha latte is ready to drink!  Simple.  Easy!  Delicious!  It’s a perfect beverage to enjoy during the holiday season.

matcha latte
Mmm…. heaven in a cup!

 

The Part About Money

OK, this really wouldn’t be a Mr. Tako Escapes post if we didn’t talk about money at least once.

So here’s the thing — real matcha is expensive.  You can make this wonderful Japanese beverage at home for about $1.  (I know I’m splurging, but it’s a special occasion today.)

How do I feel about ‘wasting’ so much money on a beverage?

Much fuss has been made in the personal finance community over the “Latte Factor”.  You know, buying a fancy-shmancy drink from one of those ultra luxurious coffee shops for $3-5.  You know, the ones with overstuffed chairs, hardwood floors moody lighting, and trendy tunes playing in the background.

starbucks roastery
The newest luxury coffee experience — a “Starbucks Roastery”. I’ll bet you a dollar that a coffee costs more here than at a “standard” Starbucks.

Seattle is famous for these kinds of coffee shops and it’s local coffee culture — they’ll actually lock you up and throw away the key if you don’t drink coffee in this town.  There’s lynchings and everything.  Yeah, Seattle takes coffee seriously…

Which is why I’ve tried to keep my coffee-free existence a secret.  It’s with some hesitation today that I admit I don’t actually like coffee.

Seattleites might think I’m crazy, but it also helped me save for financial independence that much faster…

At the very least, it has given me a unique perspective on luxury drinks.

 

Luxury In A Cup

OK, let’s be honest… any kind of beverage that isn’t water, is really just a luxury.  You don’t need to drink anything other than water, but the beverage industry has been pushing flavored waters on us for centuries… I call this the Evil of flavored water.

It’s luxury in a cup, pushed on us by global corporations looking to profit from our addiction to caffeine and sugar.  Every time you order a fancy drink you’re paying for that trendy downtown location with hardwood floors, those hip young college-age servers and of course… shareholder profits.

Don’t get me wrong — you absolutely should be out there enjoying the wonderful experiences life has to offer… but you shouldn’t feel forced to pay for all that wasteful luxury to enjoy it.

I say “do it on your own terms”.  If you want a nice drink, skip all that expensive bullshit and just make it yourself.  You’ll save yourself a ton of money, and learn to appreciate the rare treat even more.

I’m totally in agreement with the camp that says a regular latte should be criticized as a huge waste of money — one $5 dollar a day (drink + tip) every weekday for a year amounts to $1,300.  That’s no small amount of change.  After a few dozen years (and some compounding later) that amounts to serious money wasted on your road to financial independence.

But there’s also a HUGE DIFFERENCE between a fancy beverage every-single-day, and enjoying one every couple of months.  It’s habitual gorging vs. the pleasure of a rare treat.

If I drank a matcha latte every day it would cease to be a pleasurable luxury.  I’d get so used to the experience it would become normal and boring.  I wouldn’t savor the experience anymore.

That’s really the secret to finding pleasure in the small things life has to offer — don’t overindulge.  Keep luxuries rare!

It doesn’t matter if it’s a fancy drink, a dinner out, a night at the movies, or even traveling to other parts of the world — All of these pleasurable activities can and should be experienced in life…

Just not too often.

 

[Image Credit: Flickr, BusinessWire]

37 thoughts on “The Matcha Latte Factor

  • December 13, 2017 at 1:56 AM
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    Trader Joe’s has a Matcha Green Tea that I like, but I’ve never had the latte. On the to-do list.

    Even if you don’t drink coffee, I still like you blog 🙂

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:23 PM
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      Haha! I’ve never see matcha at trader joes. I’ll have to check it out.

      Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:26 PM
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      Hehe … you might not want her drinking it regular — I’m totally addicted to the stuff now.

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 5:31 AM
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    Happy 2nd anniversary, Mr. Tako. How many pageviews a month are you receiving these days?

    Your content is great and I know you are doing it for your sons but it’s wonderful for the community also.

    I’ve been coffee and caffeine free for the past 4.5 years with the one exception of dark chocolate. So I don’t drink matcha or even black nor oolong tea. I stick to roasted barley, dandelion roast, peppermint tea, chamomile and roselle or hibiscus tea. I don’t miss the crash from caffeine and get tons of energy that lasts throughout the day from good nutritious unprocessed foods. Love natural foods with high sugar content like figs and dates or bananas which all give a wonderful energy rush.

    -Mike

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:30 PM
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      Maybe 30-40k pageviews a month. That’s not a whole lot. Larger blogs see over a million per month.

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 5:50 AM
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    Mr. Tako,
    Congrats on your 2-year anniversary! That’s a huge milestone. How did you make it? Did you ever think about giving up, except that post on the Fools’ Day? My blog is only 1 month old, I feel it’s a super long journey. Sometimes I wonder if I want to continue or just stop there. Thanks.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:35 PM
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      Thanks Helen. Many new bloggers find it hard to keep going after the first few months.

      I keep going mainly because I have a lot to say! Writing things down also helps me think through complex invest issues.

      While my content might seem a little ‘random’, it’s because I write about what’s keeping my interest that day. For example, today was all about making a great matcha latte…

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 6:00 AM
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    Matcha is the best – had some incredible lattes and matcha ice cream when I was in Sydney last year. They took their tea seriously in that town.

    Keep up the fantastic content. There’s a lot of fluff out there, but I’ve come to your blog for consistent, no bs and analytical posts. Thanks for giving back.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:35 PM
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      Thanks Mr. Fired & Free! I try to keep things real.

      There’s too much of that ‘fluff’ out there in my opinion.

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 6:36 AM
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    Congrats on two years! I really enjoy the content, the pictures, and the overall motivation. Your posts usually make me hungry, for food and investment gains haha. Take care!

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:38 PM
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      Haha! I liked the bit about ‘hungry for investment gains’! Thanks Mr. Defined Sight!

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 6:55 AM
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    Any tips for matcha other than your local asian grocery store? What is a good price to pay per ounce do you think? I used to buy either a cold brew or coffee for 2 years before I realized how much it would cost me. Now, the coffee at home costs 50 cents :D!

    I wrote a post about how a 22 year old can save 500k in coffee if they just switch over to Keurig pods(~50 cents per cup) instead of spending $5 a day on coffee.

    Congrats on 2 years! Hope to see many more travel posts/food hacks to come!

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:47 PM
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      Amazon seems to be the best place to get it online…but there’s ton’s of fake Chinese matcha on Amazoid. Be careful.

      The best prices I’ve seen are for bulk packages, but you really have to love matcha to buy that much.

      For example, here’s a one pound package of Maeda matcha: http://amzn.to/2j04EOi

      At $45.12 per pound, that works out to be $2.82 per ounce. That’s significantly cheaper than the small container of Maeda I featured above, and is even cheaper than the prices we saw in Japan.

      That’s real legit matcha, not some fake Chinese stuff that’s grown in a toxic waste dump.

      Itoen would also be a Japanese brand I could trust. They sell a 8oz package for $14 on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2BlJHZ2) … which is a pretty good deal!

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 7:29 AM
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    I loooove matcha lattes. Mr. Picky Pincher used to make them for me all the time. I do admit it was more time-intensive than other beverages, so that peetered out. We have a cheapo espresso machine that I use to make homemade caramel macchiatos a few times a week. It’s absurdly cheap to make, about 30 cents per serving, and I can make it just the way I like it. Of course, we did cough up $100 for the machine, but it’s more than paid for itself after several years of use.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:49 PM
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      Really?!? I didn’t know matcha was something people drank in Texas. Go figure!

      Roughly how long do you think it takes to pay off a $100 espresso machine assuming you use it a few times a week? A few months? A year?

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 8:35 AM
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    Maeda is a good brand. I’ve had good luck with them.
    Fortunately, I like coffee so I won’t be lynch anytime soon. I’m enjoying a freshly french pressed cup at home right now. Macha latte is really good too. We occasionally go out for that. You’ve got it right about luxury. It is more special if you keep it rare.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:50 PM
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      Hi Joe! I’m surprised you have places in Portland that serve matcha latte’s. We don’t have any in Seattle that I’m aware of.

      The only other brand I could safely recommend other than Maeda, is Itoen matcha (http://amzn.to/2BlJHZ2). I don’t think it’s quite as high of quality as Maeda, but I’ve tasted the Itoen stuff and it’s quite good.

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 2:36 PM
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    Are you sure meant to say tablespoons and not teaspoons? 1TBLS=3tsp, so 3-6tsp of sugar. I know you say it’s only an occasional treat, and I’ve never had it, you my need that much to make it palatable. Always good posts from Mr. Tako, kudos for two years of awesome content. JD

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:52 PM
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      Nope, tablespoons. Matcha is bitter, and I make a big 12-16 oz cup.

      It’s good stuff, you should try it.

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 2:44 PM
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    I don’t really do coffee either, but I spend my fair share on fancy beers. The super fancy ones are reserved for special days when I feel I’ve accomplished a lot 🙂

    Congratulations on the anniversary, a big milestone!

    Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 7:32 PM
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    Happy 2 year anniversary, Mr. Tako! What better way to celebrate than with Matcha! I got addicted to the stuff in Japan. So good. *sigh* now I’m missing Japan. Need to book a trip back soon.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:53 PM
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      I know, right? I’m super addicted to matcha-everything now. 🙂

      Japan does a bunch of things really well, but food has to be #1.

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 7:37 PM
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    Happy anniversary, Mr. Tako! I can’t believe it’s been two years for you. My one-year anniversary is coming up too!

    I don’t drink tea or coffee, but I love matcha ice-cream, matcha cake, and anything matcha. Everything with matcha in it just tastes so good!!

    Reply
    • December 13, 2017 at 10:54 PM
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      If you like all that matcha stuff you should really try a matcha latte. I think you’d love it. They’re absolutely delicious!

      Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 9:47 PM
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    Congratulations on the 2nd year blogiversary! 206 posts is a fantastic achievement.
    While I like this entire post, I think the last part is really fantastic where you talk about making luxuries rare. In some ways it reminds me of the law of diminishing marginal utility in economics. If I like an experience, the more I repeat it in quick succession the lesser I will enjoy it every time. When I make it rare, the pleasure I derive from it is bound to be higher. Great post!

    Reply
  • December 14, 2017 at 12:03 AM
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    Happy 2 year Blogiversary!!

    I LOVE matcha latte. I love matcha green tea ice cream, matcha green tea anything.

    I recently bought some culinary matcha (of course on Amazon) and make my own matcha in the morning now if I don’t feel like having my usual 3 in 1 coffee. Good tip about half and half, I tried it with 1% milk and it’s definitely not the same as what you would get at a coffee shop. I was too cheap to get the whisk/ chosen, but a fork has been doing the job for me so far.
    GYM recently posted…5 Minimalist Christmas Gift Ideas (Even for Children)

    Reply
    • December 14, 2017 at 10:39 PM
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      Thanks GYM!

      Yeah, 1% might taste a little watery. That might work for an iced matcha however!

      Reply
  • December 14, 2017 at 3:06 AM
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    Congratulations on your 2 year anniversary!
    I don’t usually like matcha but maybe I need to give another try…in Japan:)

    Reply
    • December 14, 2017 at 10:40 PM
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      Thanks Caroline! You definitely won’t have any trouble finding it in Japan… the stuff was everywhere on our most recent trip.

      Reply
  • December 16, 2017 at 8:44 PM
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    Thanks for the recipe and congrats on 2 years of blogging. I just bought some matcha from Amazon!

    Reply
  • December 22, 2017 at 8:29 AM
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    I’m a newbie to the whole Matcha amazingness, only having discovered it this year. But I am utterly obsessed with it now and am also obsessed with not spending $5 on it at a coffee shop. Typically, I just go for the basic matcha, milk and ice, but you have now inspired me to branch out and try it a few different ways. Try adding in a splash of lavender, it is just delightful!

    Reply

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