Matcha, at its best, is a feast for the senses. Traditionally consumed as a way to connect with nature and enhance meditation, matcha has only recently been thrust into the coffeeshop model.
Today it’s easy to find matcha served many ways both in small cafes and corporate chains across the Twin Cities. Frankly, they’re not all good at it. (Trust us, we’ve tried a lot over the past month.) We’re here to both demystify matcha for you and review the spots you should hit for quality matcha served right.
The criteria we look for in an outstanding matcha drink are a brilliant green color, mild serving temperature, little to no clumps, and the perfect proportion of matcha to liquid and sweetener.
We’re not just picky for pickiness’s sake. Color is an indicator of quality, though unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to receive something that is more of a swampy green than vivid. Did you burn your tongue on the first sip? You shouldn’t have! But hey, it’s not your fault (and we’re sorry about your tongue). Anything above 180 degrees will scorch this sensitive tea and compromise its flavor. One of the best and most unique things about matcha is its delicate texture, which is lost if the preparer skips the crucial steps of whisking and properly combining ingredients. Finally, you should be able to actually taste matcha; it should be enhanced but not dominated by sweetener, milk, or water.
So whether you are curious about tea, a connoisseur, want to change up your caffeine source, or are looking for an Instagrammable drink, read on for our top picks for matcha in the Twin Cities.
This thoughtfully curated cafe off of Eat Street is the first place we would send anyone interested in matcha. Wesley Andrews’s warm atmosphere is filled with lush plants and has a clean aesthetic that heightens the sipping experience. They serve matcha five ways: traditional, neat, either hot or iced latte, and in a matcha Thai iced tea. The hint of vanilla syrup in their hot latte accents the matcha’s delicate, sweet, grassy flavor. The traditional is whisked with hot (but not too hot) water and is the perfect order for purists: well-crafted and minimal. This preparation showcases the deep umami flavors in matcha. 111 E. 26th St., Minneapolis
Time after time, the matcha at Parallel is a consistent and refreshing drink. Shaken with ice and served neat, it has that perfect ratio of water to matcha for a velvety mouthfeel. This drink (and its affordable price tag) make Parallel one of our regular haunts. We also recommend the matcha latte because it contends with any of the offerings from their espresso bar. Large floor-to-ceiling windows let in a flood of natural light that allows you to really appreciate the vibrant green color of your matcha. 145 Holden St. N., Minneapolis
Our favorite matcha latte comes from Dogwood Uptown. This drink best embodied our understanding of a key component within the Japanese matcha ceremony: to serve matcha with the utmost care. The flavor is on-point here and we were positively swooning over the stunning latte art. Special thanks to barista Cade for a truly exquisite pour. We’ll be back for it soon. 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
Spyhouse Coffee Roasters
The matcha lattes at Spyhouse Nicollet and Spyhouse Northeast lean toward the milky side but are still a solid order because of their beautiful bright green hue and skillful latte art that enhances the presentation. We’ve found that honey complements matcha better than simple syrup, and Spyhouse uses honey by default. A lot of places in town will gladly make a matcha latte with honey if you ask, but we like going to Spyhouse because it’s not a special request, and we don’t have to remember to ask for it. Spyhouse Nicollet, 2451 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; Spyhouse Northeast, 945 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis
Tao Cafe & Herbery
Tao is the only other place in town we found that always prepares its matcha latte with honey. Nested under the “potion” section of Tao’s cafe menu is the Earth, a matcha drink made with house coconut-cashew milk, vanilla, and, yes, honey! Drink it on its own, order it with a plate of nourishing food, or wander with it into the adjacent herbery and mercantile. Sip as you browse the comprehensive selection of books, herbs, and spices. You might just get inspired to bring something home and make your own potion. 2200 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Northeast Minneapolis’s Anelace uses organic matcha, and the quality definitely translates to a clean matcha flavor. If organic is your thing, then Anelace is the place for you. The drink was well executed, arriving at a proper temperature, with a nice texture and balanced sweetness. 2402 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
The matcha latte from FRGMNT was a bit small for the price, but compensated with its expert preparation. In traditional matcha, achieving a smooth, even surface of bubbles is the goal, and any large or uneven bubbles are considered undesirable. On these grounds, the FRGMT matcha latte really did the form justice. Your matcha will pop against the neutral color palette in this bright space. 729 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis
Young Blood Coffee
The owners and staff at this Minneapolis newcomer are friendly, and their curated vinyl playlists were on-point one recent Saturday night, while offering a nice matcha latte to boot. Their matcha comes from a specialty tea shop based in San Francisco. Young Blood feels like it brings some of the old spirit back to this part of town. With windows that overlook bustling Lyndale Avenue, the contemporary interior space mixes a cool Brooklyn warehouse vibe into the Lyn-Lake neighborhood. 2930 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Kado No Mise
This Japanese restaurant serves matcha from Kettl Tea, an exceptional tea purveyor that specializes in sourcing matcha from small, remote farms in Japan. Kado No Mise is the only place in town we are aware of that serves traditional matcha in a ceramic bowl. That said, we were torn about including it on this list. While having it whisked for us tableside was truly memorable, it did miss the mark on one crucial point: serving size. The matcha was a mere sprinkle and only about four sips’ worth, so we winced at the $8 price tag. However, if you want to try the best quality matcha in town with traditional service, this is the place. 33 First Ave. N., Minneapolis
Northeast Tea House (Opening late spring 2020)
Matcha enthusiasts should keep an eye out for this up-and-coming tea house in the works. Owner Simon Parish signed a lease on the former Taraccino Coffee space in northeast Minneapolis. Parish’s vision involves offering freshly milled matcha in a relaxing space, where patrons can focus on the experience and appreciation of tea. We can’t wait to try it! 224 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Update 3/12/20: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the owner of Northeast Tea House is David (not Simon) Parish, and spelled FRGMNT as FRGMT. Both have been corrected and we regret any confusion they may have caused.