Matcha has been around for centuries, but it now has a very young face.
Well, two young faces, those of Manhattan-born brothers, just 22 and 24 years old, who became obsessed with matcha while studying at NYU.
They spent months learning how the ancient, antioxidant-rich beverage—made from the highest quality green tea leaves—is crafted. Graham Fortgang and Max Fortgang now have a family farm growing green tea specially for them in Nishio, Japan—and a very chic café in Williamsburg called MatchaBar.
Located steps away from the Wythe Hotel, MatchaBar combines style with substance: There's vintage hand-painted wallpaper, Subway Green accents (yes, that's actually the name of the paint color) and specially designed paper cups that depict a whimsical street scene.
Matcha-dusted caneles; brothers (and owners) Graham Fortgang and Max Fortgang
The Fortgangs think the city is ripe to start buzzing about the powerful tea: "We fuel the New York hustle," Graham says. "Matcha gives you antioxidants and has just as much caffeine as coffee—but it releases more slowly into your body, over a three-hour period, so you get a more focused energy."
Made from powdered dried tea leaves, matcha is traditionally prepared by gently stirring with a bamboo whisk, or in modern times with an aerolatte whisk. At the cafe, the brothers eschew both, whirring each tea with triple-filtered water in an electric beverage mixer: "Not only is it faster, but you get a more uniform tea, without the powder sitting at the bottom of your cup," Graham explains.
You can get a plain cup of the green stuff, or take your matcha in latte, "matchaccino" or "matchiato" form. We liked ours best topped with steamed hemp milk and cinnamon ($4.50)—a warm, nutty, soothing fall drink. The cold-brewed versions ($7) are nice, too; in one, sweet, refreshing cucumber balances out some of matcha's natural bitterness.
The café carries some food from Red Hook Catering: a surprisingly filling cold kelp noodle salad ($8) and roasted beet and goat cheese sandwich with matcha-mole ($8). We loved the beautiful Balthazar canelés ($3) dusted with a bit of matcha powder, giving the perfect pastry a bit of savory umami.
RELATED Coffee's New Mate »
If you buy tea to take home (available in classic, $22, and premium, $30), the brothers will send you off with brewing instructions—which includes shaking the powder in a water bottle for the seriously lazy.
Up next for MatchaBar: new autumnal drinks (a cold pear version; a warm chai blend), pop-ups with sake cocktails on the second floor (look out for one this Saturday) and possibly bottled versions of the cold drinks early next year.
Coffee and juice bars: You may have met your matcha.
Please check your inbox to verify your email address.