Matcha fans probably know by now that Starbucks offers a matcha latte in hot and iced varieties.
If you’re used to matcha from your favorite tea house, you’re probably wondering if the Starbucks rendition is worth trying as a convenient alternative.
I recently visited Starbucks to have a go at these green tea drinks.
So are the Starbucks matcha lattes any good?
Before I’ll go into depth about how they tasted in my sip-by-sip reviews below, I will say that I was immediately hit by strong grassy aroma as soon as the barista handed me the drinks.
This got me excited to taste and review these drinks!
Keep on reading for my honest opinion about the Starbucks matcha lattes.
Starbucks Iced Matcha Latte Review
Let’s set up some expectations for the Starbucks iced matcha latte before I tell you how it looked, smelled, and tasted.
Starbucks makes their iced matcha latte using milk, ice, and matcha tea blend. The blend contains sugar and ground Japanese green tea.
Since Starbucks uses a premade matcha mix for this drink, you can’t have it without sugar.
I’ll let you know what’s possible with customization later in this review.
The first thing I noticed about the matcha latte was a strong grassy scent. The iced matcha latte has a pale-green color that almost makes it look like a pistachio milkshake.
So what does the Starbucks matcha latte taste like?
My first impression while sipping this matcha latte is that it is very “nutty.” In fact, the flavor is much nuttier than it is grassy.
The notes of the matcha are also very subtle and delicate. I couldn’t help but notice that the dominant flavor and texture of the drink came from the milk.
The Starbucks recipe essentially uses milk as a carrier for a slightly sweet and nutty matcha recipe. The result is actually quite similar to Dunkin’ Donuts matcha latte.
I felt that everything was blended very evenly and smoothly. There was no worry about chunks of matcha powder getting stuck in the ice down at the bottom of the cup.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable and satisfying drink even though the matcha level was a bit underwhelming.
Compared to the hot version, the iced matcha latte is much paler. In fact, the color difference basically looks like celery versus emeralds.
More on the velvety richness of the hot version in a minute!
Nutrition and Benefits
A grande Starbucks iced matcha latte contains 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, 28 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.
Like all matcha drinks, the Starbucks version is full of antioxidants that are known to prevent cell damage and chronic disease.
I personally try to work matcha into my “coffee” routine pretty regularly because I like the benefits for boosting brain function and memory.
Other people are wild about matcha because it’s been shown to offer benefits for heart health, liver health, and cancer prevention.
Of course, some people simply like matcha for the “life hack” angle because it contains more caffeine than ordinary green tea without making you pivot to the jittery land of coffee.
I was surprised to learn that a grande-sized iced matcha latte has 80 milligrams of caffeine.
While that’s not nearly as much as some of the coffee drinks from Starbucks, it’s still a very decent amount of caffeine. In fact, it’s one of the Starbucks teas with the most caffeine.
While the sweet flavor of the Starbucks iced matcha latte might convince you that there’s some syrup in there, this drink is actually sweetened with sugar.
Unfortunately, you can’t customize this drink to not have sugar because the sugar is part of the premade matcha mix that Starbucks uses.
I personally found the drink to be just the right amount of sweet. If you wanted to go sweeter, you could always ask for a pump of vanilla syrup to bring out the nutty notes in the drink.
Of course, you’re free to ask for any syrup available at your local Starbucks.
But can you customize the milk in your Starbucks iced matcha latte?
Yes, you sure can!
While the default milk option when ordering the matcha latte is 2% milk, your barista will switch to any dairy or plant-based alternative you wish for.
You can choose from skim milk, whole milk, and half and half, or go for vegan options like almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, or coconut milk.
I tried my Starbucks matcha latte with 2% milk to be able to review the “signature” version.
The default Starbucks iced matcha recipe uses three scoops of matcha powder. You can customize yours by asking for a different number of scoops.
If you want a deeper matcha, you can ask for four or five. I think that going below three would probably leave you with a very watered-down drink.
Starbucks Hot Matcha Latte Review
And now it’s time to try the hot version of Starbucks matcha latte!
The first thing I noticed when I popped the lid off this drink was its deep emerald tone. You can see from the photo below just how much depth and richness that green hue has.
The hot version was at least three to four shades darker than the iced version.
The green foam had a thick consistency that was similar to what you’d get with a traditional coffee-based latte from Starbucks.
Additionally, the grassy smell of the hot version was much more concentrated compared to the smell of the iced version.
The taste was also worlds away!
The hot matcha latte had a rich, creamy flavor that I thought tasted like fresh, grassy matcha mixed with honey.
I was surprised by just how much the heat was able to draw out the raw flavors of the matcha. The way the heat interacted with the sugar in the mix gave it a much richer sweetness.
While I could have sworn I was tasting honey, I did confirm that the ingredients in the hot matcha latte are actually milk and the same matcha blend used for the iced version.
I ordered it with the default 2% milk just like I did with the iced version to be able to do a truly equal comparison.
The grande-sized hot matcha contains 240 calories, 7 grams of fat, 32 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.
You can customize the drink using any type of milk that’s offered by Starbucks.
And if you want to customize your milk foam, you can ask for extra, light, or none.
I personally thought that the default foam was just perfect for accentuating the matcha without making the drink feel too milky.
Like the iced version, the hot version has 80 milligrams of caffeine for a grande.
Final Thoughts – Should You Try Starbucks Matcha Latte?
My overall impression of the Starbucks iced matcha latte is that it was smooth and subtle.
While it felt a little bit underwhelming compared to some of the more verdant iced matchas I’ve had, it ultimately delivered a sweet and nutty flavor that was very even.
The hot Starbucks matcha latte was the one that really impressed me. It was grassy, nutty, and honey-like all at once.
And did you know there are also more matcha drink options available?
Check out my guide with the 6 best Starbucks matcha drinks to find out more.
Overall, I wouldn’t shy away from dipping into a Starbucks to try either version of their matcha latte.
So if you don’t have a tea house right around the corner, Starbucks might just be the easiest way to grab a satisfying matcha near you!
Or you could just use Trader Joe’s Matcha Latte powder and one at home.