Lemon-Scented Green Tea Latte
Tea is having its day, and I couldn't be happier. I'm a bonafide tea-aholic — along with its many health benefits, tea has so many flavors, from delicate to bold, and there are many ways to use it outside of a cup, from adding it to cookie dough, using it as a fabric or paper dye, or using the leaves to smoke meats. Of course, today I've opted to keep it in the cup, because green tea latte is popping up in so many restaurants these days — but it's just as easy to make at home and, I would argue, even better.
You'll need matcha green tea powder to make your latte; it can seem a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way, so you'll still end up spending far less per cup than you would at the coffee shop. The process of making matcha green tea, by Japanese custom, is meant to be a little bit of a zen-like experience, because the matcha powder is whisked by hand in a special bowl, allowing the maker, and the onlookers, to become part of the rhythm of the process. My version, made with almond milk that has been gently scented with lemon peel, is not mixed by hand, but with an immersion (stick) blender, but there is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy the process just as much.
6 ounces unsweetened almond milk
1 piece of fresh lemon peel, about 2 or 3 inches in length
A few drops of fresh lemon juice
1 scant teaspoon matcha green tea powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon light agave syrup (or to taste)
Shake the almond milk well before measuring and pouring into a small saucepan. Add the lemon peel and warm the milk over medium heat just until it begins to simmer, then reduce the heat so that it simmers gently but does not boil. Add a few drops of fresh lemon juice and stir well — you'll see a few lumps form but these will smooth out as you keep stirring. Keep simmering for about five minutes, then turn off the heat and let the milk cool slightly. Remove the lemon peel.
Put the matcha green tea powder into a tall heat-safe container and add the milk and agave syrup. Using an immersion (stick) blender, blend well until completely combined and frothy, about one minute. Pour into a tea cup or mug and enjoy!
• Matcha green tea is slightly bitter but with a lovely earthy undertone. You may want to start with a smaller amount of the powder until you get used to the flavor, but once you do get used to it, it can be quite addictive!
• You can use a traditional blender if you don't have an immersion blender — and, if you let the milk cool to room temperature, try throwing a handful of ice cubes into the blender with the rest of the ingredients to make a frosty version!