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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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Matcha Daifuku with Red Bean Filling

Daifukumochi, or Daifuku, is a traditional Japanese sweet consisting of an outer layer of mochi stuffed with sweet filling. This time we're making matcha daifuku, which is made of matcha mochi skin with red bean filling. It's extremely easy to make and this recipe uses mostly natural ingredients. It takes no more than 5 minutes and can be made even when you're travelling. No baking required.

Ingredients (making 8 daifuku):
tapioca four (or Mochiko flour): 140g
matcha powder: 10g
cane sugar: 40g
water: 175g
red bean paste to taste

matcha mochi

Instructions:
1. Combine tapioca, matcha powder and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl

matcha mochi
2. Add water and stir until smooth; there should be no dry powder or clumps
matcha mochi
3. Use Saran Wrap or a microwave-safe lid to cover the bowl
4. Microwave for 1 minute
5. Take it out, stir, and put it back into microwave for another 1 minute
6. Get a cutting board ready, spread plenty of corn flour/icing sugar on it to prevent sticking
7. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave as it's quite hot. Use a wet spatula to scrape the bowl and transfer the mochi dough onto the cutting board

8. Press the dough until it's about 1/2 inch thick
matcha mochi
9. Cut the dough into 8 pieces; scoop red bean paste, place in the centre of dough,  and roll it into a ball. 

10. Dust with matcha powder/icing sugar if preferred. Best to consume within a day. Do not refrigerate as mochi skin will become hard.

matcha mochi

Other tips:
1. You can replace matcha powder with cocoa powder to make chocolate flavour, or just plain mochi
2. Other fillings such as black sesame, fresh fruits are all good options.
3. You can make red bean paste at home (I use store brand this time as I have no dry red beans at the time). Just cook the dry red bean until soft and drain; put into a blender, add sugar and a bit of water, and blend until smooth. 

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How to make matcha Chinese steamed bun

 A Chinese New Year is approaching; as a most celebrated holiday in China, it’s the time of the year for family gathering and a lot of home cooking. Today we will share a recipe of how to make delicious Chinese steam bun with a healthier twist (matcha!).

This recipe is plant-based with all natural simple ingredients (no baking powder required). 

Ingredients (5 servings):

300g flour, 180ml warm water, 4.5g yeast, 20g of Organic Matcha Everyday grade, 24g sugar 

Step 1: combine sugar and yeast in warm water, stir until fully dissolve and rest for 3 minutes 

Step 2: add the liquid to flour, mix until loosely incorporated

Step 3: Combine the loose flour together into a dough

Step 4: Cover the dough with a damp in a warm environment, let it rise for two hours

Step 5: Dust the surface with with flour, knead the dough to push out the air bubbles until the dough is round and smooth.

Step 6: Divide the dough into 5 portions and knead it to a round ball shape. Optional: add red bean paste to the dough if prefer 

Step 7: On a steamer, fill with cold water, brush some oil or line a damp cloth on the steamer tray, arrange the dough and let it sit for another 5 minutes.

Step 8: Cover the lid, use a large damp towel (large hand towel) to cover the lid, turn the heat on high for about 15 kinutes.

Step 9: Turn the heat to medium when the steam starts to appear for another 15 minutes.

Step 10: Turn off heat and rest for 5 minutes (keep the lid closed)

Step 11: Open the lid and take out the buns (watch out for steam!). Enjoy! 

 

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How can matcha help with your workout routine?

Is your weekend plan including hitting the gym or other forms of workout routine? Do you want to boost your endurance and energy during workout? Try having a matcha coldbrew or adding matcha to your shake afterwards. Here're a few reasons why matcha is so good for your fitness goals:

1. NO ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS OR ADDITIVES

Unlike many other sport pills, powder, or energy drinks on the market that may come with many artificial color and flavours, additives or even sugar, matcha is naturally loaded with high antioxidants and all beneficial amino acids and essential nutrients. No fillers!


2. BOOSTS METABOLISM & ENERGY


The antioxidants in matcha have been found to help increase metabolic rate. During a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was demonstrated that the consumption of matcha increased the body’s natural rate of burning calories by nearly 400%!


The gentle caffeine and L-Theanine in matcha can provide you 3 - 6 hours of sustained energy without spike or crush.


3. HELP RELIEVE CRAMPS & SORENESS
Matcha can help reduce the production of lactic acids, of which is the main cause of muscle cramps and soreness. The antioxidants in matcha can help release muscle stresses and reduce inflammation.

4. BURN TARGETED FAT
For those of you who couldn't afford exercise regularly, matcha can significantly decrease body fat composition and reduce targeted fat in abdominal area. This is great for people mostly sitting all day without enough physical activities during weekdays. Drink it after meal for best result.

5. IT'S ECONOMICAL & EASY TO MAKE
With only 1/2 tsp per serving which is about 1g, you're spending less than $1. Why pay for the cost of water and plastic bottle of an energy drink where you can easily make your own 100% all natural energy booster. 


Recommended Usage:
In a 24oz bottle, add 1/2  - 1 tsp (teaspoon not tablespoon) Organic Everyday grade matcha, fill up water to about 3/4 full, shake vigorously 10 - 15 seconds, and enjoy!

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How to Make Matcha Ramen

Matcha powder is so versatile that can be added to many dishes. This year when I went to Japan in June, it was steaming hot; I literally had cold soba/matcha noodles every single day for a whole month - some were from restaurants and some from convenient stores such as 7-Eleven & Lawson. When I'm finally back to Vancouver, I suffer withdrawal of my daily cold matcha noodles! During our trip we learnt how to make ramen from scratch, and now we just add our everyday grade matcha powder making it matcha ramen!

Store-bought noodles often are highly processed and contain additives/chemicals. Making noodles from scratch is not only natural and healthy, it's also super fun!

OK let's get to it:

Noodle Ingredients (serving 2-3):

300g flour of your choice

Salt water (150g warm water + 8g salt)

1 tbsp Whisk Everyday Organic Matcha

Step 1:

how to make matcha ramen noodles

Sift 300g all purposes flour (or wholewheat flour if you prefer), then sift 1 tbsp of Whisk Everyday Matcha for a standout green colour. We did try with some store-bought lower grade matcha powder and the colour becomes yellow/brownish, which is not very appetizing. 

Step 2:

Slowly add salt water to flour a little at a time, and loosely mix them together, then put everything into a large ziplock bag/foodsafe plastic bag. Let it rest for 20min - 1 hour.

Matcha Ramen Noodles

Step 3:

Knead the dough for 10 minutes either by hand or by feet (on top of the plastic bag - it's the traditional way of doing it), the more you knead, the stretchier the noodles are. After kneading, let the dough rest again for 1 hour to overnight. 

matcha ramen noodles

Step 4:

Spread plenty of flour on surface. Roll the dough to 2mm thin.

matcha ramen noodles

Step 5:

Fold the sheet into 4 layers and sprinkle more flour in between.

Step 6:

Cut as thin as possible? then open up and arrange the noodles together.

Now you have your dry matcha noodles! At this stage, you can choose to freeze them for future use, or cook right away!!

Step 7:

Cook them in boiling water for 8 - 9 minutes, take it out, and rinse under cold water thoroughly for 20 seconds or so. I like my noodle stretchy and a bit chewy, so if you like softer noodles, cook 10 - 12 minutes! However try not to overcook.

 

Soup Base:

So for cold noodles, Japanese people don't typically put the cold soup WITH the noodle. The soup is usually set aside and you dip the noodle in. 

Feel free to use your own soup base recipe. I will share our two soup base recipes (one cold and one hot) through our e-newsletter, so if you'd like to learn how to make plant-based noodle soup, please subscribe to our newsletter!

Give it a try and comment below how you like it, or if you have any questions!

Happy Noodling!

Kimmy Xiao

kimmy@whiskmatcha.ca

cold matcha ramen

cold matcha ramen

Hot matcha ramen

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