Are you a matcha lover? Do you enjoy the earthy, refreshing taste and the numerous health benefits that come with it? If so, then you've likely tried a matcha drink from Starbucks. However, not all matcha drinks are created equal,
From Matcha Green Tea Lattes to Matcha Lemonades, Starbucks offers a variety of matcha drinks for their customers. However, as matcha becomes more popular, questions come up about what exactly it's made with. One of the most common questions is whether Starbucks' matcha is sweetened or not.
Let's get into it
Is Starbucks Matcha Sweetened?
In the United States, the matcha powder that Starbucks uses is made and sold to the coffee shop with sugar already in it. Sugar is actually the first ingredient listed on the matcha powder that Starbucks uses, and since ingredient labels are ordered by weight, that means there’s more sugar than matcha in the drink. Canadian and United Kingdom Starbucks matcha powder is unsweetened.
What’s crazy is that Starbucks used to add their classic syrup (liquid cane sugar) to all matcha drinks ON TOP OF the already sugary powder. However today a Starbucks matcha latte will just be made with the sweetened matcha powder and milk. The matcha frappe will have the sugar sweetened matcha powder in it, as well as a few pumps of classic syrup which adds much more sugar.
In Canada, the matcha powder actually arrives at Starbucks unsweetened and gets mixed with liquid cane sugar or classic syrup when made into a drink. You’re not reading this article for a social commentary, but I think the fact that Canada’s drink is regularly unsweetened while the U.S. drink is loaded with sugar may say something about how Americans like their food.
Anyways, the fact that Starbucks Canada’s matcha powder is unsweetened means that if you live in Canada and like your matcha unsweetened, either for health reasons or personal taste preference, you can order a matcha latte without the added pumps of liquid cane sugar and it will be unsweetened. However, if you use a dairy-free alternative like oat, almond, coconut, or soy milk, those will be sweetened and add some sugar to the drink.
If you live in Canada and want your matcha latte sweetened like those in the U.S., just order a regular matcha latte and the barista will add a few pumps of classic syrup (liquid cane sugar) to the matcha powder and milk.
Starbuck’s matcha in the United Kingdom also is made without sugar. I’m not sure if the British make their matcha lattes by regularly adding liquid cane sugar so if you want it without any sugar I would specify that just like you would if ordering in Canada.
How Much Sugar is in Starbucks Matcha
Below is a graphic detailing the amount of sugar in all sizes of Starbucks hot matcha latte, iced matcha latte, and matcha creme frappuccino.
What Ingredients are in Starbucks Matcha
A Starbuck’s matcha latte is made with two ingredients: Milk and their Matcha Tea Blend, which is a blend of sugar and Japanese green tea.
Possible add-ins to a Starbucks matcha latte include ice, flavored syrup (Vanilla, Cinnamon, Caramel), ice, alternative milks (Soy, Coconut, Almond, Oat), cream, sweetener, and even a shot of espresso.
I personally don’t order matcha from Starbucks because when I drink matcha, I don’t want the main ingredient to be sugar, but when I order matcha from other coffee shops my favorite add-ins are oat milk and ice.
Below you can check out the nutrition facts of a Starbucks Iced Matcha Latte to learn about what you’re putting in your body when you enjoy the drink.
Why Is the Starbucks Matcha Sweetened?
The main reason that Starbucks matcha is filled with sugar is that it’s what most customers want, and Starbucks is a large for-profit business that is going to do everything they can to get to customers the drinks they want so that they don’t go somewhere else to get them.
One Starbucks barista on the message board Reddit put it like this, “People don't go to Starbucks because they like coffee. They go to Starbucks because they like sugar. The American diet is sugar and unhealthy fats, so it makes sense why US Starbucks contains lots of sugar and fat.”
Another when discussing the excess sugar in the matcha said, “Consumers decided that fate, not Starbucks. A company is going to take the most profitable route. For every black coffee I sell, there’s 9 caramel macchiatos with 5 sugars and extra caramel. It’s saddening honestly.”
Other than customer preference, another reason Starbucks matcha is sweetened may be because it’s cheaper to make that way. Real, quality matcha is very expensive. If most people can’t tell the difference between good and bad matcha, it makes sense that Starbucks would use a cheaper, lower-quality tea masked with sugar.
Where to Get Unsweetened Matcha
If you live in the United States, you’re not going to be able to get an unsweetened matcha drink from Starbucks. If you live in Canada or the United Kingdom, Starbucks matcha powder does not include sugar so you can order your matcha latte without any added syrup and enjoy it unsweetened.
So for the U.S. residents like myself: Where can we get unsweetened matcha?
Most chain coffee shops are going to sweeten their matcha with sugar, so you’re going to have to search for a local coffee shop to find an authentic matcha. Just be sure to ask your barista when ordering if the matcha is sweetened.
The easiest way to get unsweetened, traditional matcha is to make it at home. All you do is stir in matcha powder with water. If that's something you're interested in check out the bag of matcha below.
Grab this Amazon favorite Organic Matcha Powder (110,000 reviews) on Amazon here.
What is Starbucks Matcha?
Matcha is a finely ground powder of green tea leaves that is known for its vibrant green color, earthy flavor, and numerous health benefits.
The tea is native to Japan, where it’s traditionally prepared by whisking matcha powder with hot water, and nothing else is added. However, in the Western world, matcha is often used as an ingredient in lattes, smoothies, and other sweetened drinks.
Starbucks describes their matcha latte as, “Smooth and creamy matcha sweetened just right and served with steamed milk. This favorite will transport your senses to pure green delight.”
How is Starbucks Matcha Made
A grande (16 ounce) hot matcha latte is made by combining 3 scoops of matcha powder to a steamed milk of your choice.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.
This article was written by Josh, the founder, and owner of AngryEspresso.com. You can learn more about Josh on our About the Team page.