Is Starbucks Tazo ® Green Tea Latte Really Matcha?
Two guys walk into a Starbucks, ask for a healthful drink and the crowd roars with laughter. Seriously, who goes to Starbucks for a healthful drink? By the way, your body is healthy; your drink is healthful. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s see if we can figure out if Starbucks’ Tazo green tea latte ingredients can actually be called “Matcha”. Our story begins when two guys walk into China…
A Brief History of Green Tea in Japan
Japanese legend has it that the two guys were Buddhist scholars who entered China in 805 A.D. where they were introduced to green tea. Enchanted with the brew, the young students brought saplings home to grow on the monastery grounds. Tea then remained a drink for monks and the upper classes until modern times.
Three centuries after our scholars’ discovery, a Japanese monk named Eisai was promoting the health benefits of drinking tea. In 1211, he recorded his knowledge in two volumes titled, “How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea”. In the first, Eisai explains how to cultivate and process the tea trees. The second volume enlightens the reader to the health benefits of drinking tea. An interesting point to note, Eisai wrote, “Drinking green tea aids the five major organs of the human body and eases the destructive effects of alcohol”. Modern science tells us his theories were correct.
Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea
In recent years, researchers have proven that green tea contains powerful antioxidants called catechins. These and other naturally occurring compounds do indeed affect the body much as Eisai explained back in 805.
The most powerful of the catechins is epigallocatechin or EGCG. Green tea and the abundance of catechins within has been the focus of several research studies. To put it in perspective, researchers found that EGCG had more antioxidants than either vitamin C or E! The results look promising and science may soon confirm green tea as a food-source for medicine. Asian practitioners have been aware of food as medicine for centuries; with these studies, Western medicine may just catch-up. While EGCG may have the greatest impact on human health, it is not the whole story.
L-Thiamine is a naturally occurring mental stimulant and may enhance memory and focus for green tea drinkers. Science is still researching many other health claims from weight-loss to a cure for cancer. It seems years of research lay ahead, why wait? Just realize the importance of drinking green tea in obtaining many health benefits now.
Green Tea, Oolong, or Black Tea
Tea is tea, right? Not really. All tea begins as the species Camellia Sinensis, but processing the leaves produces very different results. The main difference for health benefits is in the fermentation. This process destroys much of the catechins that are naturally occurring in green tea. Here is the breakdown, Black tea is completely fermented, Oolong is half-fermented, and Green tea is never fermented. So, green tea provides the highest amount of precious antioxidants per sip.
Is Starbucks Tazo Green Tea Latte Healthful?
You know by now that Matcha is a high-quality, powdered green tea grown in Japan. Starbucks Matcha Blend may contain Japanese green tea, but the first ingredient on the silver pouch is sugar. As you know, that means sugar, not tea, is the main ingredient. So what are you drinking in your latte?
Here are the Starbucks Tazo green tea latte ingredients as listed on the website:
Organic Vanilla Soymilk [Organic Soymilk (Filtered Water, Whole Organic Soybeans), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Baking Soda, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12], Matcha Tea Blend [Sugar, Ground Japanese Green Tea].
Here are the USDA Nutrition Facts for a Grande (16 oz) Green Tea Latte:
Total Fat 6 grams
Cholesterol 0 grams
Sodium 130 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Sugar 34 grams
Protein 10 grams
The company proudly proclaims the use of Organic Soy milk made with Organic Sugar (cane juice is just another way to say sugar) and hopes you will not notice that Japanese Green Tea is last on the list. Remember, the main ingredient in their Macha Tea Blend is also sugar. The results are a whopping 34 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce latte!
Why would Starbucks add all that sucrose knowing it is detrimental to the health of humankind and animals alike? Simple, it is what the people demand. The products have all been extensively taste-tested and approved by consumers just like us. Shame on you Starbucks for giving the people what they demand! Oh, wait. Are we forgetting that “coffee shops” are not “health food shops” and we need to look beneath the menu? Starbucks counts on consumers seeing “green tea” on the menu and thinking “healthful” beverage.
No matter where you buy green tea today, it is very different from what Eisai used in 1211 for his studies. Modern processing methods can introduce chemicals, such as lead and artificial flavorings, and possibly decrease the efficacy of the antioxidants in your brew. To prevent contamination, sugars, and anything artificial from invading your drink, brew it at home.
Start with pure Japanese Matcha tea available online at Matcha Green Tea Lovers. Here you will find high-quality tea from ceremonial to tea for daily use and cooking. Matcha Green Tea Lovers carries everything needed to create the perfect cup of green tea. Once your pure Matcha is delivered, try this recipe.
Make your own healthful (and cheap) Green Tea Latte
Creating a creamy, warm, slightly sweet beverage yourself is affordable and easy. This recipe will help ease the withdrawal from your coffee house tea.
- 1/2 Teaspoon pure matcha green tea powder
- 1 Cup soy or coconut milk
- 1/3 Cup hot water
- Pure Stevia powder to taste
- Carefully heat the milk on the stove or in your microwave. Or, if you need your Starbucks fix, use a milk steamer.
- In a large bowl, add pure matcha green tea powder, milk, hot water, and stevia powder.
- Using a bamboo whisk, briskly stir the mixture to dissolve the matcha and Stevia powders.
- Pour into your favorite teacup and enjoy!
By the way, no one at Matcha Green Tea Lover will think it strange if you need to write your name on the cup.
Is Starbucks Tazo® Green Tea Latte Really Matcha?