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Be Your Home Barista - how to make matcha latte art at home

Before founding Whisk about 3 years ago, my plan had always been opening up a matcha cafe in Vancouver, and I wanted to practice latte art at home, so if one day the cafe's open, I would be ready for it. We bought a couple of different tools to start with: a cheap battery operated electric frother like this:

Image result for electric frother

The milk can get frothy but it's kinda a hassle to have to heat up the milk in the microwave first, then use this to froth it; so we up the game and bought an automatic milk frother like this:

It has heating and frothing functions all in one place, which is nice, and all you need to do is to press the button. However the milk becomes too foamy that it's impossible to do free pour latte art. 

Finally we decided to invest in a domestic espresso machine (as a commercial machine costs at least 15K+, PLUS you need to hook up the water pipes). After months of researching, reading reviews and returning a couple of cheaper models from Breville, this year we finally bought one that actually worked for making latte art at home! It's called Barista Express by Breville.

The major difference between this model and the previous models is the steaming power, as we use it solely for steaming milk. If the power is not strong enough, the milk won't be stretched properly and you won't be able to draw the latte art. I'm not an expert on latte art, but here're some of my own understanding about "stretching milk" or also "texturing milk".

Stretching milk means injecting tiny air bubbles into the milk while heating up, so your milk becomes richer in texture and lighter in weight. This will enable the heated milk foam to float on top of your espresso and create different art pattern. If the steaming power is too weak, it will only heat up the milk without injecting micro bubbles into the milk. Usually it only takes a commercial machine 15 - 20 seconds to produce a perfectly stretched milk. Stretching milk is the key factor of a beautifully done latte art, so we will talk a bit more later.

Now whether you have a machine or not, the first few steps are the same for making matcha latte. 

Step 1: Preparation

I like to gather all my gears together first. You will need:
1 tsp of matcha (for a 12oz cup)
1 latte mug (like the one in the photo is the best for free pour)
1 x matcha bamboo whisk
1 x empty cup for soaking the whisk
1 x stainless steel latte pitcher
1 x wet towel for wiping the steaming wand
milk of your choice 
Sweetener of your choice

Turn on the machine, ensure the water tank is full.
Soak bamboo whisk in warm water to soften the bristles.

Step 2: prepare matcha espresso

To create a similar consistency to coffee espresso, I recommend using at least 1 tsp of matcha powder for a 12oz cup; use bamboo whisk to mix matcha powder with about 1oz of warm water in a circular motion until well combined. If you want to add sugar, now it's the time to add. It will also make the espresso thicker which will be helpful for pouring the latte art. Don't add too much water! You wouldn't get a good latte art if the matcha base is too liquidy. 

Step 3: texturing milk

This is the tricky part. It took me a couple of months to figure out how to do it properly. In order to injecting perfect amount of micro bubbles, you need to keep 50% of your steaming wand nozzle under the milk liquid, and 50% above. Once you turn on the steamer, you should hear some whistling sounds and the air coming from the nozzle is creating a current inside your pitcher. Never let your nozzle fully submerge into the milk; if the milk starts to rise, slowly and gradually move down or tilt back the cup. Depending on your machine, it should take about 65 - 75 seconds to get the milk heated up and textured. If the milk is steamed for too long, it will be burned and the flavour will be off. If it's under steamed, the milk won't reach that rich and thick consistency. Some barista would use a thermostat to check on the milk - the ideal temperature should be around 65C - 70C. 

Step 4: free pouring

Free pour has two major steps. The first step is mixing, which you hold the pitcher slightly higher and pour into the cup in circular motion. At this step, you're only pouring out the liquid part of your steamed milk, not the frothy part. Once the cup is filled about 1/3 full, you can make a stop.

The second step is drawing the latte art. When you're about to draw it, you tilt the cup toward the pitcher and lower the pitcher so it gets closer to the cup. Once you pour, the froth should come out. The easier patterns are heart and tulip (yes I draw a tulip better than a heart!). There're numerous tutorial videos on Youtube showing how to pour those patterns. 

Milk Selection:
Not all milk/milk alternatives can be textured. Personally I tried 2%, Homo, almond, coconut, and soy milk. I don't find a huge difference in 2% and homo, but most baristas I know prefer to use homo milk. I also tried an extensive varieties of milk alternatives, and only the organic soy milk from Costco, the Kirkland brand, produces the best and similar result to regular milk. Most store-bought milk alternatives are either too thin to be textured, or contain lots of Xantham Gum or other additives as thickener, or the flavour is off after being steamed. Please let me know if you find a good milk alternative brand and I'd love to try it out! 

Matcha Selection:

I tried all of our grades of matcha, including competition grades, and honestly the Organic Everyday grade is still perfect for making matcha latte. Since our everyday matcha is blended cultivar, it creates a complex and strong flavour profile; when adding milk and sweetener to it, the matcha flavour will be enhanced.

In contrary, top grade matcha usually has a strong umami (seaweedy) taste, and it's not very compatible with milk and sweetener. I'd still drink top grade matcha the way it's supposed to be - straight up. Better matcha creating better matcha latte is not necessary true. 

 

Have you tried? Hope you find this blog helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or feedbacks below, or feel free to email: info@whiskmatcha.ca.

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Organic Honey Matcha Latte

 

This is one of mMatcha Latte Organic Matchay favourite matcha drinks! Warm and frothy, with the right balance of sweetness and matcha flavour.

 

1 tsp of Whisk Organic Matcha Ceremonial grade 

1/2 tsp of Organic Honey

1/3 cup of hot water (not boiling)

1/3 cup of Organic Whole Milk

 

Step 1: Add hot water to matcha power, and whisk until mixed

Step 2: Add 1/2 tsp of honey to matcha, and stir

Step 3: Heat and froth milk in a frother. If the frother doesn't have heating function, heat the milk in microwave for about 30 seconds.

Step 4: Pour frothed milk into matcha. 

Enjoy!

matcha latte

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Matcha White Hot Chocolate

Chilly winter days call for curling up, staying cozy with a good book, putting on your favourite flick or enjoying leisurely conversation and laughs with family and friends.  Our matcha-infused twist on a hot chocolate favourite is guaranteed to become a go-to for you this season.  
Ingredients
Method
  1. Mix the matcha powder with 1/2 cup of warm water and whisk well.
  2. Heat skim milk in the small pot. Slowly add white chocolate chips into warm skim milk and use a spatula to stir. Turn off heat before bubbling and keep stirring until white chocolate melt.
  3. Pour white hot chocolate into a mug, pour matcha mixture into the mug and gently stir.
  4. Top with fresh whipped cream and dust with matcha powder.
  5. Enjoy!

Let us know how you enjoyed this cocktail recipe and share a photo on Instagram! Be sure to use the #MerryMatcha tag. 

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Vegan Pumpkin Spice Matcha

Warm up this season and sip this yummy, nutritious drink! We've perfected our own version of a fall favourite using the Whisk Matcha Everyday Grade matcha and added just the right amount of natural sweetness and pumpkin spice to make this your new go-to beverage.
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp of Whisk Matcha Everyday Grade matcha
  • 2 tbs pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbs Almond milk
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2-3 tsp maple syrup
  • optional toppings- vegan coconut whipped cream, ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Mix matcha powder and pumpkin pie spice together
  2. Add 70ml warm water to the mixture and use a whisk to mix well
  3. Add pumpkin puree and stir
  4. Add maple syrup and frothed hot almond milk. Stir gently
  5. Top with coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
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