The energy-boosting, antioxidant-filled, finely milled powder known as matcha, made from green tea leaves, is having a moment. People can’t seem to get enough of the stuff, which can now be found around town in beverages—typically whisked with hot water and used in place of coffee—and desserts. Here are our favorite places to get a fix.
Aqua S US
There’s a lot to love about the dreamy, photogenic design, the “I Got Served in Houston!” neon sign, and the cotton-candy-decorated cones at this Asiatown outpost of the popular Sydney soft-serve shop. The signature, pastel-blue sea-salt flavor is always on offer, with three other options on rotation. Lychee, Thai tea, and matcha show up regularly, and they’re all available in pre-packaged containers for takeaway.
Colorful, zany, and altogether joyful, this games café, co-owned by former Astro Hunter Pence, offers all-day entertainment in the form of board and digital games, pizza, and plenty of caffeinated beverages. The latte art here, whether decorating classic coffee drinks or matcha creations, is competition-worthy in itself. Grab some friends and check this place out.
Styled after the Instagram-friendly cafés of Korea and Japan, this shop has an all-day menu featuring hand-pulled La Colombe espresso, blended frappés, specialty teas, pizza, and, yes, many delicious things made with a certain popular powder. Warm your belly with matcha latte or tea, and a plate of crisp, matcha-dusted mini beignets. Better yet, indulge in the crazy-good affogato: two scoops of green ice cream with red bean topping and matcha-flavored Pocky sticks, served with a shot of matcha espresso.
Matcha Cafe Maiko
Open as of July, this Honolulu export, Houston’s first café dedicated solely to all things matcha, buys its powder directly from Harima Garden in Kyoto, Japan, and uses it as a base for everything from soft-serve to lattes, shaved ice, frappés, and more. Try the Maiko Special, a take on a traditional ice cream sundae made with matcha-flavored soft-serve, cream, and chiffon, plus chestnuts and mochi balls.
Helmed by veteran sushi chef Mike Lim (formerly of Roka Akor), this new Katy hot spot has a strong sushi game, plus elaborate omakase tasting dinners and beautifully plated sashimi dishes. Just as strong is the bar program, featuring Asian-themed craft cocktails like the tasty Meet Your Matcha, made with gin, matcha powder, yuzu, and house lemongrass simple syrup, with a frothy egg-white cap.
One of the first places in Houston to offer a comprehensive matcha-beverage menu, this is a great spot to experience it as both drink and doughnut. You can get it in a shot, like espresso; as a “stout,” similar to an Americano; and in a beverage similar to Vietnamese iced coffee made with coconut condensed milk. Pair it with a white chocolate doughnut with matcha stripes, or a vegan version with matcha-coconut frosting.
Build-your-own poke bowls and chef-created items like the incredible truffle yellowtail, salmon yuzu kosho, and tuna aioli might be the main attractions at this popular spot, but it also has some nice tricks up its sleeves for dessert: bags of house-made marshmallow treats in fun, Asian-inspired flavors such as ube and matcha.
With an open-kitchen layout reminiscent of a working lab, this shop is the brainchild of Sherry Xu, who offers healthier teas free of heavy syrups and sugars, including floral-tea “superfood lattes” whose swirls of ingredients (blue algae, red beet, and turmeric, for instance) often blend to form rainbows. Her matcha drink series combines the green goodness with strawberry, turmeric, and coffee.
Fancy dim sum is on the menu at this outpost of London’s Michelin-starred teahouse, but as much as you’ll love feasting on plates of steamed har gau and phoenix tail shu mai, you might love the pastries even more. One of the newest meticulously crafted creations is a to-die-for matcha yuza tart, made of green tea mousse, yuzu curd, hazelnut ganache, and crisp feuilletine pastry.