"In doing it nitro, those fine little bubbles—just like in Guinness beer—they give it a nice creamy body, and they make it a little bit sweet," said Snake River Tea owner Sue Neal. "Sometimes green teas can be a little bitter, have a bit of those tannins in them, but doing it with nitro takes all that away."
Neal came up with the idea of serving the nitro-infused tea after passing a Starbucks and seeing advertisements for nitro coffee; when she got home and googled "nitro matcha," the closest shop she came up with was B Sweet, a dessert bar in Los Angeles. Although Whole Foods stocks a canned version of B Sweet's nitro matcha, the Boise location doesn't offer it.
"I couldn't get samples of it or anything, so we were toying with [the idea] and we decided, 'Let's just go for it. It's got to be good,'" Neal said. She bought a kegerator, a few kegs and a handful of large containers to mix the matcha in, and started to experiment, getting advice from the staff at Woodland Empire Ale Craft. After a series of taste tests, nitro matcha made its way onto Snake River Tea's menu, selling at $4.75 for a 12-ounce glass.
Neal said that as far as she knows, her shop is the first in Idaho to offer a house-made version of the brew, and she hopes the popularity of nitro will introduce matcha to a new crowd. Her shop has long pushed the intense, hand-ground, whole-leaf version of green tea for its health benefits, including its high antioxidant and amino acid levels.
Even with the novelty of nitro, the tea is still clearly a health drink, with strong herb notes that are mellowed by the nitrogen but come through on the finish. What really takes it up a notch from traditional matcha is the mouthfeel: It's thicker and creamier without the benefit of milk, and the thick foam recalls the satisfaction of a latte.