Drink

Upgrade Your Matcha Latte With Saxbys’ New Line of Specialty Drinks

The local coffee chain's suite of matcha drinks gets creative with the popular green tea.


matcha drinks

Saxbys’ new suite of matcha drinks ranges from a matcha lemonade to a hot vanilla-raspberry-matcha latte. / Photograph by Stu Goldenberg

In a Starbucks-dominated world, it’s difficult enough for an independent coffee shop to make even one drink that turns passersby into loyal customers. To attract fans by producing different inventive lattes? That takes a heaping spoonful of courage and imagination.

Fortunately for Saxbys, it’s got both in spades. Especially since the locally based coffee chain hired Ally Zeitz as the culinary developer in January, the company has been pushing out creative offerings like that’s its job. Exhibit A: the limited-edition mocktails Saxbys rolled out for the summer. (Our favorite was the espresso tonic.) Exhibit B: The new line of matcha drinks, which launched Tuesday. “I really like that we have an alternative to coffee,” Zeitz says. “It’s nice to be able to offer caffeine in a different way and a form of energy in a different way.”

For the uninitiated, matcha is a type of green tea that contains more caffeine and more antioxidants than your standard variety. (More research needs to be done to see if matcha conveys extra health benefits.) It’s labor-intensive to both grow and, if blended in the traditional way, using a bamboo whisk and ceramic bowl, make. Baristas have been pouring matcha at American coffee shops for several years now, and it’s probably featured in your Instagram feed, its bright green color popping off the screen.

However, we haven’t spotted too many cafes around town with a diverse slate of matcha options. Double Knot had a matcha bar for a while, but now you can only get it in latte or lemonade form, and A La Mousse in Chinatown offers matcha as a tea with foam or as a latte or frappe. Saxbys, though, is pushing out five different matcha drinks in an effort to introduce more intrepid customers to a powder that can be an acquired taste.

For the purist (ish), there’s the matcha latte. The iced coffee lover can turn her attention to Saxbys’ iced matcha, a drink that dilutes some of the powder’s earthiness but adds an almost savory creamy twist that you don’t typically get when a drink is watered down with ice. The specialty drinks range from the Main Squeeze, a sugary lemonade-matcha mix, to the Big Mood, an eye-catching combination of naturally blue butterfly blossom tea and matcha, to the Vanilla Love, a hot vanilla-matcha blend with a raspberry stencil on top to add an unexpected burst of sweetness.

Saxbys is sourcing the matcha for all of its drinks from Matchaful, a New York City and Portland–based company that works directly with Japanese farms to ensure the tea meets high standards for quality and freshness. Although Zeitz initially wanted to go the classic bamboo-whisk-ceramic-bowl route when it came to making the drinks, she ended up coming across what looks like a water bottle with a built-in tea strainer that you can use to shake the powder and smooth out the clumps, a smart way to save time and scale the process across multiple locations. But don’t worry, each of your matcha drinks will be still be freshly made at Saxbys. So, get to sipping — and, of course, ‘gramming.