The Textural Problem With Starbucks' Iced Green Tea Lattes

Starbucks' green tea lattes are a bit of a hot debate among matcha drinkers — you either like them or you don't. But, if there's one thing about them most people can agree on, it's that they're not made the traditional way. For example, if you were to visit a matcha cafe of the likes of Cha Cha Matcha in New York or Holy Matcha in San Diego, you'd be able to watch the barista scoop the powdered green tea into a bowl before frothing it by hand with a bamboo whisk. At Starbucks, on the other hand, you'll watch it go right into a cup or blender.

Now you can't necessarily fault the barista for this. Starbucks is not a specialty matcha cafe, and its operation line is focused on getting drinks made efficiently and seamlessly. So, rather than introducing additional tools like a bamboo whisk, which would require specific preparation, cleaning, and technique, they stick to what they know. Unfortunately, when it comes to Starbucks' iced matcha lattes, this can result in a clumpy texture that nobody, not even a matcha-drinking regular, would enjoy.

Inconsistency leads to uncertainty

Among matcha drinkers, there are two sides: Those who drink Starbucks green tea lattes and those who do not. Where you lie can depend almost entirely on the location you go to and who is working that day. Some Starbucks employees think they're annoying to make, for one. Additionally, because the matcha powder is measured in scoops, the strength of the drink can vary. The texture, however, is what can really kill your Starbucks matcha — especially if you like to order your green tea lattes over ice.

Typically, whether the drink is being served hot or cold, matcha powder is frothed into warm water before being mixed with milk. Not only does the warm water help to enhance its delicate, fragrant flavor, but the frothing is essential to achieving a smooth, creamy consistency. When shaken with ice, as is done at most Starbucks locations, the powder isn't able to completely combine with the milk. So you'll usually end up with an off-putting clumpy texture you can both see and feel.

All of these inconsistencies are what make Starbucks green tea lattes such a divisive menu item. Unfortunately, you can never be sure how it'll come out. To save money and ensure it comes out the way you like it, you may just want to stick to making your own matcha at home. If you're on the go and Starbucks is your only option, however, know that the hot green tea lattes are generally more consistent.