Our resident Starbucks expert heads out to get her cold matcha and milk fix, and finds a unique way to customize it too.

Even though coffee is Starbucks’ marque drink, the chain has proven time and time again that it’s got a soft spot for matcha too. Multiple times a year Starbucks Japan brings out a new green tea-flavored drink or dessert…but here’s the weird thing: up until a few days ago, if you walked into a Starbucks Japan branch and asked for an iced matcha latte, you were out of luck.

That’s because even though Starbucks serves hot matcha lattes all year long, the cold version of the beverage has been a limited-time-only thing. That never made much sense to our matcha-loving hearts. After all, both hot and cold coffee are always on offer at Starbucks, so why not give the same temperature options to matcha latte fans?

Apparently someone in Starbucks Japan’s product planning team finally asked that question and nobody had a good answer, because as of June 14, The iced Matcha Tea Latte is back on the menu, and it’s here to stay!

The promotion of the Matcha Tea Latte (which starts at 460 yen [US$3.40] for a short size) to permanent menu item is great news for anyone who loves the taste of matcha and wants a sweet and refreshing cold green tea drink, but isn’t in the mood for something as heavy, slushy, and calorie-laden as a matcha Frappuccino is. Made with matcha powder and milk, you get a nicely balanced blend of the initial bitterness and subtle sweetness that makes matcha so captivatingly delicious with just enough creaminess to soften some of the more astringent notes.

It’s a great choice all on its own, SoraNews24’s Starbucks expert reporter K. Masami noticed someone making a bold customization choice when she stopped by her local branch. One of the customers ahead of her in line also was there to order the iced Matcha Tea Latte, but customized it by adding a shot of espresso, for an additional 50 yen. Intrigued, Masami decided to ask for the same addition, and also for a switch from regular milk to almond for another 50 yen.

The drink Masami was handed had a luxuriously deep green color, and just from looking at it we wouldn’t have guessed its hidden additional ingredient. The scent, too, was strongly matcha. When she took a sip, though, Masami found the green tea notes less prominent than the drink’s color would have suggested, with a noticeable, but not overpowering, espresso flavor. Actually, though, if she hadn’t known there was espresso in the cup, she might have mistaken it for hojicha (roasted green tea), because of how smoothly it blended with the matcha. As a side note, since matcha lattes aren’t particularly high in caffeine, the espresso turns it into a more effective early-morning eye opener.

▼ Masami, now wide-awake

Of course, with the iced Matcha Tea Latte now on the menu permanently, there’s no pressure involved in choosing whether or not to add the espresso shot, since you can always go back and try it the other way on your next visit. And if you’re craving something that’ll warm you up instead of cool you off, don’t forget that Starbucks’ hot matcha latte was the winner of our hot matcha latte taste test battle, and by a pretty big margin.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where there’s a pretty good chance he’s craving a matcha latte right now.

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