Of all the pretty iced drinks across the Bay Area — and in the land of boba shops, there are a fair few — the classic remains a cool matcha latte. It’s hard to surpass the serenity of that chlorophyll concentrated color, poured over a tall glass of milk, for a mesmerizing swirl of green and cream. A good matcha latte sucks up the straw like sweet cream and goes down like delicate green tea, and devoted drinkers get why it’s ascended in popularity across the last five years and now seems ubiquitous in coffee shops and bakeries. But unlike these wild Starbucks hacks trending on TikTok, a matcha latte is surprisingly simple to make at home. And often better — stocking quality tea makes all the difference.
“When I found matcha, it was such a mellow kind of lift. It lifted me up in a different way,” says Candice Ng, general manager of Stonemill Matcha. “I fell in love with matcha.” She drinks the tea in flavored sparkling water every day, and makes an iced latte on the weekend, as an afternoon pick-me-up. She maintains that matcha is a lifestyle: “You’re more in tune. It’s more intentional. When people come to have tea, they take time out to actually enjoy.”
Stonemill Matcha is the undisputed matcha authority in San Francisco. Since the cafe opened in the Mission in 2018, it’s been completely dedicated to the specific type of green tea, sourcing special blends from favorite farmers in Kyoto. Stepping inside the cafe is like entering the Emerald City, where the bright green color splashes across drinks and desserts. Ng confirms that the matcha latte is the most popular drink by far, and “it really depends on the weather — summertime is almost all iced drinks, and wintertime is all hot drinks.” Although Ng is one of those Californians in the cool latte crowd. “I’m an iced drink kind of girl. I always get iced drinks.”
The quality of the matcha is the most important, and Stonemill carries two options: A delicate and sweet first crop, which they recommend simply brewing in water to appreciate on its own. And a slightly earthier blend of first and second crops, which they fold into lattes and pastries. Otherwise, ingredients are super simple. Grab your favorite milk; the cafe uses whole milk and oat milk. “Anything with more fat tastes better,” Ng advises. “That’s just true in life.” Add your favorite sweetener, which in the cafe is simple syrup, although Ng reaches for honey at home. And not too much! “We use a minimal amount of sweetener in our lattes … you want to taste that grassiness and earthiness and mellow out the bitterness. The matcha here is clean and sweet. You can actually taste the tea.”
There’s no fancy equipment required. The bowl and whisk are ceremonial, but you can use a small whisk or handheld frother. The cafe uses a blender for big batches, and you can store matcha concentrate in the fridge, which will stay bright green for 24 to 48 hours, and may oxidize after that. But most tea drinkers make a single serving at home, and it’s a quick whisk. You don’t even have to boil water — because matcha is whole ground up tea leaves, you’re not steeping, you’re just swirling. Check out the full recipe below.
Iced Matcha Latte Recipe
1 teaspoon matcha
2 fl oz (¼ cup) water
6 to 12 fl oz (¾ to 1½ cups) whole milk, oat milk, or other milk
½ fl oz (1 tablespoon) simple syrup, honey, or other sweetener
In a matcha bowl or small bowl, add the matcha, pour the water over, and whisk until smooth, breaking up any clumps. (Alternatively, you can use a hand frother and whip until smooth.)
Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the milk and simple syrup. Float the matcha on top last. Swirl to combine and serve chilled.
Makes 1 serving
Want to try it? Stonemill Matcha is available through Pastel for neighborhood pickup and delivery across the Bay Area.