Most folks think of protein as “meat” or “fish,” and as something you eat at dinner. For sure, these foods deliver top-notch protein since they contain all nine essential amino acids we need in order to thrive. However, many other foods contain protein: animal-souced vegetarian foods like dairy and eggs, as well as plant foods, notably legumes.
Moreover, protein isn’t just for dinner in at dinner; it’s easiest for our bodies to digest and assimilate when we spread it evenly across our meals, and this can include protein-containing drinks such as this one.
Wherever possible, I recommend you get the widest possible range of protein from both animals and plants. And if you’re committed to eating a plant-based diet, make sure you get enough high-quality plant protein — which is where this drink can come in handy.
This milky drink isn’t just a protein-rich snack; it also contains a wide range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds from green tea, an ingredient that most of us rarely consume. I’m the first to admit that I haven’t always super-loved green tea — that is until I discovered matcha (powdered green tea). Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that has gained popularity in recent years thanks to its health benefits, unusual aroma, and its bright color.
Here are some of the health benefits associated with matcha:
- High in Antioxidants: Matcha is rich in catechins, a type of antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It is made from shade-grown tea leaves that are ground into a fine powder. This grinding process allows you to consume the entire tea leaf, which means you get more antioxidants, particularly catechins like EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), per serving compared to steeped green tea.
- Improved Mental Alertness: Matcha contains a small amount of caffeine (more than steeped tea but less than coffee), which can provide a mild energy boost and increase mental alertness without the jitters or crashes often associated with coffee. If you are sensitive to caffeine, don’t drink matcha (or any caffeinated drinks or foods) after noon.
- Calming Effect: Matcha contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which has a calming and relaxing effect on the brain. It can help reduce stress and anxiety while promoting a state of focused relaxation.
- Metabolic support: Some studies suggest that the combination of caffeine and catechins in matcha may help boost metabolism.
- Heart Health: Regular consumption of matcha has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. It may help lower LDL cholesterol levels and improve overall cardiovascular health.
- Improved Brain Function: The combination of caffeine and L-theanine in matcha can enhance cognitive function, including improved attention and memory.
- Detoxification: Because matcha is grown in the shade, it tends to have a high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is believed to support the body’s natural detoxification processes.
- Immune System Support: The antioxidants in matcha may help strengthen the immune system and protect against infections.
- Skin Health: Some people claim that applying matcha topically or consuming it can help improve skin health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Oral Health: Matcha contains compounds that may inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, leading to improved oral hygiene and fresher breath.
Now — just because a little of something can be good, a lot isn’t necessarily better. Matcha is a case in point.
While it has many potential health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation, as excessive intake can lead to side effects (esp. when using highly concentrated green tea extracts) such as digestive issues or disrupted sleep due to its caffeine content. Moreover, it can interfere with the action of several medical drugs, so if you take prescription drugs or are undergoing cancer treatment, please ask your doctor whether it’s safe for you to consume green tea, and if so, how much and when.
Finally, the quality and preparation of matcha can vary; I generally use ceremonial-grade matcha, which tastes better to me (it has a fresh, sweet, almost creamy flavor whereas culinary matcha tastes more earthy and can have a bitter edge), contains slightly more antioxidants and is more finely ground than culinary matcha.
About this recipe
As with all my recipes, feel free to make it yours. I use unflavored, unsweetened soy milk, which I rarely drink, but love in combination with matcha. If you don’t like or tolerate soy, use a different unsweetened plant milk, or an animal milk you tolerate. Some plant milks are fortified with calcium, others aren’t; some are sweetened, others aren’t; some contain protein, others don’t (or very little) — so please check the nutrition label to see which milk provides the nutrients you need — and tastes good, too!
I have posted two versions of this recipe: an iced one for summertime (no photo) and a hot one for winter. Enjoy!
Iced Matcha Latte
- 1 high-powered blender
- 12 oz unsweetened soy milk or other milk you like, preferably unsweetened and containing some protein & calcium
- 1-2 tsp matcha powder see post above for infromation about ceremonial vs. culinary matcha
- 2 tbsp protein powder my favorite plant protein powder is Wilderness Poets' Hemp Protein, but whey protein (here's my favorite brand) or another type of protein powder works, too. It should ideally be unflavored so as not to mask the delicate taste of the matcha powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract (alcohol-free)
- 1 tsp maple syrup optional; to taste.
- 2-3 ice cubes optional; can be blended with the milk & matcha, or placed in the glass befor eyou pour in the milky drink
- Pour the milk into the blender. Add matcha (1-2 tsp, depending on your taste preference & caffeine tolerance), protein powder and vanilla extract, Blend to combine. Check for taste; if desired, add a teaspoon of maple syrup.
- Pour over the ice cubes in the glass (alternatively, blend with the ice cubes for a thoroughly chilled drink). Enjoy.
Hot Matcha Latte
- 1¼ cups unsweetened soy milk or milk of choice (plant or animal)
- 1-2 tsp matcha powder
- ¼ cup water just boiled
- 2 tbsp hemp protein powder I like using Wilderness Poets' hemp powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract alcohol-free (I like Trader Joe's)
- 1 tsp maple syrup optional
- Pour the milk into a microwave-safe container (like a glass measuring jug or mug). Microwave on HIGH for 1-2 minutes (until it's close to boiling). (Alternatively, pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until it's close to boiling; remove from heat.)
- Stir vanilla extract and maple syrup into the hot milk. Whisk to combine. If you want to make it look like a professional latte, whisk the milk with an electric foamer (I use and adore this one) (not a sponsor!).
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ¼ cup of hot water and matcha powder. Whisk briskly back and forth to dissolve matcha. This is traditionally done with a bamboo matcha whisk but I use a wire whisk and it works just fine.
- Add 2 tablespoons of protein powder to the matcha mixture and whisk again.
- Carefully pour the hot (foamed or un-foamed) milk into the matcha mixture and enjoy.