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