It’s hard to overstate matcha’s shot to stardom over the past year. The specialty stone-ground Japanese green tea has gone from relative obscurity to full-fledged food darling, complete with matcha-focused cafes, matcha recipes on magazine covers and fashion-week matcha shots.
Matcha offers an energy boost that coffee fans will appreciate, but with a simultaneous calming effect, thanks to certain amino acids in its makeup. It’s also been attributed to regulate blood sugar and metabolism thanks to its impressive roster of antioxidants. Plus, the process of making matcha requires an array of Instagram-worthy tools, from the chasen (a bamboo whisk used to stir the powder with water into a frothy elixir) to the traditional ceramic bowls used for serving.
We’re especially fond of it during our January booze break because it has a grassy, bitter flavor that lends itself beautifully to a mocktail (or a cocktail for that matter: Bartenders have also been dipping into the matcha craze with everything from a matcha Gin Fizz to a matcha-infused Piña Colada). Matcha simple syrup has become a staple of our refrigerator—perfect for mixing with soda for a simple tonic, or shaking with lime juice, cucumber, apple juice and mint in this refreshing cooler (recipe below). Remember: If you’re sensitive to caffeine, this shouldn’t be your replacement for an after-dinner drink; it’s better to sip on it during your mid-afternoon lag.
Makes 1 drink (plus enough syrup for about 8 drinks)
For the matcha syrup:
- .5 cup Water
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Stone-ground matcha
For the cocktail:
- 1-inch piece of Cucumber, roughly chopped
- 8 Mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish
- Juice of 1 lime (about 1.5 tablespoons)
- 1 oz Fresh apple juice (ideally from a tart apple like Granny Smith)
In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan or tea kettle, bring one cup water to boil.
In a large bowl, add the matcha. Pour the boiling water over the matcha and whisk until well combined. Whisk in the simple syrup and let cool to room temperature. (The syrup can be covered and refrigerated for up to one week.)
To make the cocktail, add the cucumber and mint leaves to a shaker tin and muddle very well. Add the lime juice, apple juice and two ounces matcha syrup, and fill with ice. Shake very well until chilled, then strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the mint sprig.