You’ve finally found it. A corner coffee house that specializes in matcha. But not just any matcha, premium ceremonial grade matcha tea. This is a rare gem.
It’s uncommon because there’s a big misconception that just because a coffee shop has one line item of matcha on the menu, people assume it’s the good stuff.
Well, there’s good matcha and there’s bad matcha. I mean it when I say it one swig of the bad stuff and you might give up on matcha forever.
If you aren’t a matcha purist, drinking it only with straight water with delight, it’s okay. We get it. You may find drinking your matcha in a latte form brings even greater satisfaction.
But you may be wondering which milk alternative is best to get all the health and energy benefits of superfood matcha in creamy, latte form.
We break down the differences between almond, soy, and oat milk and what it means for your next matcha latte order.
BETTER THAN MILK?
It’s true that about 36% of the US population has problems digesting the lactose found in milk.
So there are digestion issues to consider, but there are also health and environment related reasons you may want to try a milk alternative for your next non-diary latte.
The chart below breaks down the differences between each milk in nutritional value, water footprint, and Greenhouse gas emissions.
Almost unheard of two decades ago, traditional milk alternatives have become extremely popular as consumers continue to look for better-for-you options.
Whether it’s allergy concerns, environmental preferences, or a dietary choice, dairy alternatives are one of the fastest growing segments in the grocery store. The estimated market size is nearly $40 billion by 2026.
Three of the most popular milk alternatives right now are almond, soy, and oat.
Almond Milk Matcha Latte
People think it’s a new development, but almond milk dates back to 13th Century Middle East. At the time, there were a lot of excess almonds laying around and people found that almond milk didn’t spoil in the heat as quickly as animal milk.
Through trade, almond milk spread to Europe and beyond. It was prized as an early health food. Yet, It never experienced rocket ship growth, even though it had been on the menu for awhile.
It wasn’t until 2008, almond milk made its huge comeback when almond growers began to notice the success of Soy Milk. This was when they began marketing almond milk as a competitor to soy milk.
We’re big fans of almond milk’s nutritional value. Unsweetened versions are low calorie and only have 1 or 2 grams of sugar making it ideal for a low carb latte option.
It’s nutty taste pairs well with ceremonial grade matcha, it’s not too overpowering, and it still allows some of the delicate, earthy sweet matcha notes to shine through.
We recommend doing it straight. Just matcha plus almond milk. No pumps of artificially sweetened syrups or refined sugar.
For the best almond milk, we’d encourage you to check out brands that don’t use a lot of added ingredients. (MALK or New Barn Organics are what we choose for our Moontower Matcha Lattes)
The water footprint of producing almonds remains high. If you have a nut allergy, it’s not for you.
Soy Milk Matcha Latte
Believe it or not, soy milk has a history dating back to 25 AD in China. While soy milk never went on a hiatus the way almond milk did, it was always a specialty item and consumed mostly in Asian countries.
It wasn’t until the 70’s when WhiteWave Foods of Boulder, CO, was founded as a producer of soy and tofu products that soy milk really got its start in the US.
Silk Soy milk was first introduced in 1996 and was the first alternative milk to market itself next to traditional milk products in grocery stores. They were also the first to educate the American consumer about milk alternatives.
There’s quite a bit of mixed feelings about the nutritional value of soy. It’s commonly referred to as an ingredient that can mimic estrogen and mess with hormone levels, especially in men.
In reality, unless you’re drinking it non-stop like water, it’s probably not too much of a concern.
Soy milk is high in protein. 1 cup has about 8 grams so that’s a plus. The benefits of added protein is that it can help us feel full for longer and support a healthy waistline.
The other benefit of soy is that it contains isoflavones. These are plant compounds that act like antioxidants. (however, these isoflavones are also highly controversial depending on who you ask)
If soy milk isn’t organic, it’s highly likely that it’s the result of genetically modified crops. The majority of soy in the US is GMO.
Depending on where you stand on this issue, it’s something to consider. Since it’s largely a monocropping growing method, there’s also a greater concern for pesticides usage and farming practices that go against a more regenerative model.
That’s why if you choose this milk alternative, we recommend always going organic. You can also choose unsweetened to avoid the unwanted calories of added sugar in your soy milk matcha latte.
But ultimately, the biggest reason to avoid soy is that it’s also a common allergen.
Meanwhile, there was another milk story beginning halfway around the world. This was around the same time that soy milk was making its debut in grocery stores across the United States.
Oat Milk Matcha Lattes become a thing…
In the early 90’s Rickard Öste, a food scientist at Lund University in Lund, Sweden, was researching lactose intolerance and sustainable food systems.
Well, shortly after, Rickard must have decided this was going to be the next big thing. He founded Oatly.
It’s currently the largest global supplier of oat milk with United States revenues of nearly $400 million.
Oat milk matcha lattes are a great choice if you have allergies because it’s dairy free, nut free, and oats are naturally gluten free.
There’s also a certain type of fiber in oats called beta glucans (mushrooms too) that are shown to have cholesterol lowering properties.
Oat milk often has the most thickeners, emulsifiers and added sugar. There’s also added seed oils, like canola oil, that can increase the amount of inflammatory omega 6 fats in your diet.
The other thing to consider if you truly have a gluten allergy is that oats are often cross contaminated and therefore can pose a potential threat for gluten intolerant individuals.
There’s one big misconception that seems to fly under the radar though….oat milk is high in carbs and calories. It’s almost 10X the carb count of almond milk even in unsweet varieties.
If you prefer a low carb or keto diet, it’s not ideal.
So there ya go. Choose your matcha latte dairy free alternative milk wisely.
It’s really personal preference. There are pros and cons to each one. While almond, soy, and oat milks are all popular milk alternatives, be sure to know what you’re getting when you order over the counter.
We didn’t talk about coconut milk. The flavor is so strong in will mask any of the umami flavor notes of premium matcha. There’s also the more fringe macadamia and cashews varieties.
And consider this a warning. A lot of shops try to mask lower quality matcha with additional sweeteners and sugar, turning a healthy daily ritual into a massive sugar bomb.
We still think combining the highest quality pure ceremonial grade matcha and some water is the way to go. It’s the healthiest, and most eco-friendly option.
How to make a Moontower Iced Matcha Latte
Did you know you can easily make your Moontower Matcha into an iced matcha latte? Simply combine 1 can over ice, add your alternative milk of choice, stir and enjoy!
We love seeing your latte pics! Tag @drinkmoontower so we can share!!