Where’s the matcha? Everywhere – but especially in NYC. New York has beaten us Angelenos to the punch when it comes to matcha bars, it seems there are nearly as many matcha bars as juice shops these days. And we’re not mad about it.
We’re sharing this guide to the top matcha hotspots in the Big Apple thanks to foodie, student and TCM reader, Kate Kirby whose love for the green stuff is topped only by her love for baking (this. cake. tho.) Get the rest of our green tea obsession here and also note our own editor’s pick: Chalait (for the food, the tea and the gorgeous white interior). Read on for the scoop on where to go and what to order when you’re there…
It’s no easy feat to tear New Yorkers from their coffee, but the rising popularity of matcha-based beverages in the Big Apple seems to be doing just that. Matcha, a finely powdered specialty green tea originating from China and Japan, is traditionally diluted in water and drunk as tea. The recent craze, however, has it getting mixed into everything from cappuccinos and lattes to ice cream and baked treats.
Not only does matcha offer a subtle and delicious nutty flavor, but also stands among the likes of chia and açai as one of the world’s most powerful superfoods. Matcha is a great source of antioxidants, but it also lowers cholesterol, calms the mind and increases metabolism. While a cup of the green brew contains just a little less caffeine than a Red Bull, it provides a gradual energy release for a sustained boost without all the jitters.
More and more trendy Manhattan coffee shops and tea bars are serving up vibrant green drinks and sweets made with the miraculous powder, and I made it my mission to scout out the best the city has to offer. Here’s everything you need to know about matcha in NYC…
Matcha Cafe Wabi (233 E 4th Street, East Village)
Not only does this tiny café nestled on 4th and B boast an extensive menu of green beverages and a wide selection of grassy colored treats, but the very walls and counters are an ode to the distinctive earthy color of powdered matcha.
My Picks: Ask for a slightly sweetened iced matcha latte made with smooth macadamia milk, and indulge in a scoop of regular or roasted matcha ice cream served in a matching green ceramic dish. Be sure to snag a cutely packaged matcha madeleine or Rice Krispie treat to stick in your purse for the road. Short on time? Take a quick shot of matcha for all the restorative qualities with the added benefit of efficiency. In the mood for something warm? Go for the “matchacchino” for a clever take on the espresso-based classic.
MatchaBar (256 W 15th St, Chelsea)
Stop by this understated Chelsea café for the full matcha experience, from baked goods to beverages. With its ample seating and leafy green wallpaper, MatchaBar is the perfect place to bring a good friend or a good book to enjoy alongside a cup of the green brew, iced or hot.
My Picks: I’m a sucker for a warm milky drink, and the flat green paired with a crunchy matcha biscotti was the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up. If you’re craving something cooler, try the iced matcha latte. If you have the self restraint, snap a few pictures of the gorgeous ombré beverage before taking your first sweet sip. Really rushed? MatchaBar sells their iced matcha pre-bottled at various locations around the city to keep you refreshed even when you’re running late.
Miansai (33 Crosby Street, Soho)
Tucked away on quiet Crosby street, Miansai is perhaps the most under-the-radar of the bunch. You wouldn’t even know matcha was available at this tea-bar-meets-jewelry-boutique without insider knowledge. Come here for an almost religious matcha experience and browse the selection of iconic metal cuffs and hook-and-rope bracelets while you feel yourself revitalized.
My Picks: Ask for an iced matcha, lightly sweetened with a splash of almond milk and watch as the in-house tea expert hand whisks the vibrant powder with the traditional brush before shaking it over ice in an elegant metal cocktail shaker.
Cha Cha Matcha (373 Broome Street, Nolita)
Featured on all the hippest blogs and Instagram accounts, it’s not surprising that Cha Cha Matcha is the latest millennial Mecca. From the round pink and green tabletops to the palm-frond print cushions, Cha Cha Matcha screams trendy. Be sure to wear your favorite mirrored shades and wide-brimmed hat if you want to fit in with the clientele.
My Picks: While the coconut iced matcha latte is refreshing, and the matcha-infused pastries are tantalizing, the real show-stopper here is the soft serve. Order the matcha vanilla swirl, where the intense nuttiness of the matcha is balanced by its subtler creamy counterpart. I can honestly say this is my favorite ice cream to date. Sorry, Italy.
Greecologies (379 Broome Street, Nolita)
While Greecologies, located next door to the famous Cha Cha Matcha, is primarily known for its selection of sweet and savory authentic greek yogurt, it truly rivals its neighbor when it comes to matcha beverages. Enjoy the minimalistic yet rustic ambience while you sip – the white tile floors will make the perfect backdrop for an Insta-worthy shot of your brightly-colored drink.
My Picks: My favorite here is the matcha cortado, but the milkier and slightly less intense classic matcha latte is a close second. On a hot day, go for a frothy almond milk iced matcha latte with just a touch of sweetness.
Honorable mentions: Matcha ice cream at Davey’s Ice Cream (137 1st Avenue, East Village); matcha latte at Cafe Henrie (116 Forsyth Street, Lower East Side); almond milk matcha latte at Maman NYC (239 Centre Street, Soho).