I had my first matcha latte at Mitsuwa, a Japanese supermarket, and I have been hooked ever since. Something about the multi-layered grassy, sweet, and complex taste keeps me craving matcha everywhere I go. Therefore, I headed on a matcha crawl in Berkeley to find my matcha fix. 

What is matcha?

With its earthy yet refreshing flavor, this green tea has taken the world by storm. Matcha is the powdered form of Japanese Tencha leaves which are specifically grown in shady areas to increase flavor and healthiness. The cultivation, consumption, and ceremony of matcha is all a part of the Japanese ritual called "chado" or "Way of Tea."

Renown for its stimulating and calming effects, disease fighting antioxidants, and other health benefits derived from present compounds, matcha is a healthy addition to everyone's diet.

There are two grades of matcha: ceremonial grade and culinary grade. Ceremonial grade should only be mixed with hot water in order to experience the natural flavor and sweetness. Culinary grade is great for making lattes, baked goods, and other things which can add complementary flavors to the lower grade matcha or mask some of the bitterness of it. 

In Berkeley, there are many cafes and restaurants which serve matcha products, but these are the top five where you can find the most flavorful matcha treats and probably me enjoying them for the fiftieth time. 

1. Asha

The first stop on our matcha crawl in Berkeley is Asha, which has possibly some of the best matcha lattes west of Japan, and they are my personal favorite. With hand-whisked, bright green, high-quality matcha powder, this creamy and flavorful latte brings out the truest flavors of matcha that will transport you straight to a Tencha field you will not want to return from. 

There are many matcha items, from pure ceremonial grade matcha to matcha affogato to a matcha sparkler. There are also add-ons such as boba, grass jelly, and fruit puree—I highly recommend the yuzu fruit puree.

2. Cafenated

Cafenated is a gem of Northside Berkeley with an interesting matcha latte made from a concentrated liquid matcha with extra chlorophyll. This latte has a more grassy flavor and less sweetness. While they don't use powdered matcha and traditional methods of making matcha lattes, I enjoy the subtler flavor and frothy milk. 

Cafenated is the perfect study space, with a large backyard area where you can sit under hanging plants. If you want to relax with a big cup of aromatic matcha, head here and you won't be disappointed.

3. Gadani

Gadani has a matcha and matcha red bean latte, but the true star is the matcha egg waffle with ice cream. Both crispy and chewy, this Hong Kong bubble cone is a delightful alternative to a regular sugar or waffle cone. 

You can customize your dessert with a choice of egg waffle, ice cream, and two toppings. There are many unique ice cream flavors like lavender, ube, blueberry cheesecake, jasmine green tea, and more from the local Tara's ice cream shop that perfectly complement the matcha egg waffle. The toppings include rose petals, chocolate and caramel drizzles, condensed milk, and Oreo crumbs among others. Overall, Gadani is a unique dessert shop that everyone should try out. 

4. Amausaan uji Matcha

Cindy Lin

Amausaan is a matcha paradise. Upon entering, pink cherry blossoms and the cute rabbit mascot of Amausaan welcome you. A walk under the symbolic red torii gates takes you to the massive matcha menu and a station where you can try your hand at finding your fortune stick. 

Make sure to get the creamy matcha soft serve in a crispy chocolate cone or the Ishita Shiratama Matcha Story, a matcha sundae enhanced with plentiful toppings: sweet adzuki beans, crispy puffed rice, chewy shiratama dango, and luxurious egg pudding. 

5. Feng Cha

Feng Cha is a new arrival in Berkeley with specials like Matcha Red Bean Milk Tea, which has red bean and crispy rice toppings, and the ultra airy Matcha Milk Foam Sponge Cake with Pocky sticks. Regular drinks can also have additional matcha milk foam for an extra layer of complexity. Feng Cha is a great option for those who enjoy a milder taste of matcha in interesting forms.

If you are craving a matcha dessert or are just looking for a hangout place, these five places are great options to consider. Better yet, go on a matcha crawl in Berkeley and find your favorite treat from this guide!