Matcha, a green tea powder of varying grades made from whole ground tea leaves from Japan, is having quite a time in the culinary spotlight. Matcha cafes and boutiques have opened across Los Angeles, intent on teaching the ceremonial rituals of making the tea itself, along with matcha-centric menus. Meanwhile, a slew of cafes and restaurants are offering innovative dishes and drinks with the "it" ingredient.
The powder is thought to be a natural detoxifier, rich in fiber and chlorophyll, and providing vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium. It is purported to help boost metabolism, burn calories, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, plus have a calming effect.
Added to lattes, lemonade, ice cream, smoothies, cocktails, candy, custards and baked goods, this natural emerald hue powder is most definitely a tasty trendsetter. We can't confirm that matcha makes these items healthier. But we can dream, can’t we? Here are the best places in L.A. to go green and get your matcha fix.
Bea Bea's, an understated breakfast and lunch spot in a Burbank shopping center that's close to the Warner Bros ranch, is known for its outrageous pancake, waffle, and French toast concoctions. The Green Tea Monster is among the top pancake orders - a stack of three plate-size matcha green tea pancakes are filled with white chocolate chips, and topped with green tea mascarpone, powdered sugar, and a large mound of house made whipped cream. Don’t forget the maple syrup served on the side. Bea Bea's also serves up a mighty fine green tea latte.
353 N. Pass Ave., Burbank
A 1950's cocktail party meets modern day at Birds & Bees, a swanky ocktail bar located just steps away from Downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market. Follow a wooden fence along a red brick wall to the back of a parking lot on Broadway, then through a hidden alley that leads to a yellow door. You’ll know you’re in the right place as a faint sound of music swirls through the air. The 3,000-square-foot underground space conjures visions of Mad Men crossed with Ozzie and Harriet’s living room amid classic Mid-Century Modern design. Co-owners and childhood friends, Dev Desai and Ankur Desai, engaged bar guru Marcos Tello to oversee a cocktail program of “forgotten” and “seasonal” classics. But of course, it wouldn’t be L.A. without matcha—so making a stylish grand entrance comes the Doris Day: a mix of bourbon, honey and lemon, topped with matcha tea foam. And perfect for America’s sweetheart, it's accented with a flower.
207 S. Broadway, Downtown L.A.
Matcha drinks and donuts star alongside other food and drink items at Café Dulce, the popular eatery with two locations in Downtown L.A. There is an extensive matcha bar menu with a hot and cold drinks. The blueberry latte, either hot or cold, is a favorite. On the sweet side, the green tea donut filled with vanilla custard is a definite must! Find it alongside other donut flavors, including bacon and fruity pebbles.
134 Japanese Village Plaza, Bldg E, Little Tokyo
777 S Alameda St. #150, Los Angeles
Since opening in the Spring of 2016, The Cannibal Beer & Butcher, the meat and beer focused offspring of the New York original, has featured matcha in several incarnations, including Matcha Chicken Liver Mousse and Matcha Cinnamon Buns. The latest creation, the Matcha Confetti Cake, is a special dessert to celebrate the first couple months of the New Year. The festive three-layer cake comes courtesy of pastry chef Kelli Nehl,s who prepared the moist vanilla cake with sour cream and "funfetti" highlighted with matcha buttercream frosting. And don’t worry, there are vegetables on the menu to balance your decadent meal.
8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City
Located in West Hollywood, Catch LA is perched above Melrose and San Vicente under a retractable open-air dining room with views from the Hollywood Hills to downtown. Catch LA has a global reach with locations in New York, Dubai and Playa Carmen. The menu is filled with extravagant seafood and sushi dishes, as well as steak and vegan options. The cocktail menu tends to toward the creatively exotic, so it’s fitting that the appropriately named Detox Retox includes matcha, Herradura Silver Tequila, fresh cucumber, mint, and lime. Served in a glass juice jar, it could be justified as the "boozy" version of a green drink.
8715 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
Chimney Coffee House, the Downtown L.A. eatery and coffeehouse, has one matcha dish that’s worth the drive—the insanely indulgent Matcha Brick Toast—a thick slice of housemade Hokkaido style milk bread toasted and slathered with matcha butter, topped with Fosselman’s matcha ice cream, house made maple whipped cream, drizzled with honey, and topped with Pocky sticks. Make it a double matcha day and order a green tea matcha latte as well.
1100 N. Main St, Downtown L.A.
Hamasaku is a sophisticated sushi restaurant located in a West L.A. corner strip mall. Hamasaku is owned by Creative Artists’ Agency co-founder and current venture capitalist, Michael Ovitz, whose Japanese art collection graces the restaurant's modern walls. In addition to stunning dishes, the can't-miss dessert is the Matcha Budino— a blend of matcha green tea and white chocolate topped with a dollop of whipped cream and raspberries. The Salted Caramel Budino you’ve seen all over town has nothing on this one.
11043 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
This New York transplant opened its first West Coast location in Silver Lake (next door to Millie’s) in February 2017 This is the third MatchaBar location for brothers and co-founders Max and William Fortgang, who opened New York’s first specialty café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2014, followed by another in the Chelsea area of Manhattan in 2015. The organic food program is from Highland Park’s Amara Kitchen and pastries and other baked foods are by Gjusta Bakery in Venice. And of course, front and center, you'll find innovative matcha drinks with an exclusive drink menu created for L.A., including matcha and fruit juice concoctions. MatchaBar bottled drinks are also available at Whole Foods and other retailers.
3534 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
In the summer of 2015, Alissa White opened Matcha Box, her intimate cafe and boutique on West Third Street. It was a natural next step for her online business, matchasource.com. She created the minimalist space to gather and educate about matcha with the mantra: “no milk, no sugar, no cash (swipe only).” All drinks are prepared in full view as the matcha is hand-whisked the traditional way in a ceramic pot. Customers are encouraged to ask questions about its preparation and health benefits. The slim menu features creative drinks and alternating select sweets. First-timers should try The Hero, an almond milk latte prepared with homemade nut milk. In a cock (mock)tail mood? Go for The Empress with lemon and muddled mint or the Matcha Bitch with ginger and maraschino. And if you see a Sweet Nun matcha cream puff, grab it!
8036 West 3rd St. Los Angeles
Opened in the beginning of 2017, Midori Matcha & Café is a sleek, modern matcha café located in the Weller Court shopping center in Little Tokyo, across from the monument dedicated to Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka. The mall is also home to a slew of Japanese themed stores and eateries, including Marukai Supermarket and Kinokuniya bookstore. Founder Jason Dmitry Steinbuchel started his matcha business as a wholesaler of bottled drinks made with ceremonial grade stone-ground, organic matcha. His first brick and mortar serves up a menu of cold brewed drinks, including matcha with blueberry or coconut; limeade with fresh lime; granita ice cream shake; soft serve; lattes, and more. Pastries filled with matcha, include beignets, eclairs, and brownies come courtesy of nearby Pitchoun Bakery. Stop by for a refresher as you take in the sights, or hang out, read, or study - wifi and limited outlets are available.
123 Astronaut Ellison South Onizuka St #101-C, Little Tokyo
Tako and Yumiko Hirano opened Paradocs Coffee and Tea a few years ago on a stretch of Fairfax Avenue called Little Ethopia. Tako mans the tiny café's front counter, while his wife, Yumiko, makes practically all menu items on-site, including bread, pastries, soup and gelato. She gained matcha knowledge from her aunt who rose to the ranks of “master” in Kyoto, Japan. Matcha selections include: a croissant with matcha/almond paste, matcha brownies, and a slew of matcha hot and cold drinks, including authentic ceremonial tea, and an affogato with homemade gelato and freshly whisked matcha.
1032 S. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
Since opening on Abbot Kinney in July 2016, Shuhari Matcha Café has become a Venice hotspot, incorporating traditional matcha preparation techniques with a modern twist. Although the sleek space is small, this café/teahouse/boutique with business roots in Japan is packed with authentic tea supplies and also includes a zen-type garden patio. The predominantly matcha menu includes more than 40 drinks, sliders, rice burgers, sweet toasted bread rolls, ice cream shakes, and mochi bon bons. The most decadent use of matcha is definitely the sundaes, which combine various ice cream flavors, including matcha, with fruit, syrup and other toppings.
1522 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice
The matcha green tea soft serve at Tea Master Matcha Cafe & Green Tea Shop, the tiny tea shop in Little Tokyo's Honda Plaza, is among the very best in L.A. Soft and creamy, yet dense, the ice cream is sprinkled lightly with matcha powder. Also, most unique is the Tokyo Style amazake smoothie with matcha, quinoa, chia seeds, almond milk, almond butter, and mochi mugi barley. Owner Dai sells tea drinks, tea sets, bento lunches, and food specials, such as rice balls, and can answer any matcha question.
450 E 2nd St, Little Tokyo