9. Matcha Source Matcha: In Japan, tea is celebrated at formal ceremonies, and matcha sits at the top of the tea chain. Matcha Source owner Alissa White wants people to know that fact, so the Mid-City matcha specialist will gladly prepare three grades of matcha at her airy shop, free of charge, in the interest of tea education. White dry-strains the matcha powder into a bowl to separate clumps. She adds fresh filtered water, hot, not boiling. She whisks the tea with a bamboo whisk, ideally with at least 100 prongs, crafted from a single piece of bamboo, until frothy. Whisks run from 60 – 120 prongs. Under 100, and the matcha tends to stay clumpy. Try to stick with triple digits. Kama is smooth, and the lower grades, Gotcha and Morning, have more astringency.
10. Rawvolution Wake Up Kiss [CLOSED]
Janabai Amsden and Matt Amsden run this raw cafe on Main Street with grey awning, reclaimed wood tables, worn concrete floors, and paper lanterns. Raw foodists set serious limitations on intake, so they can get creative. Such is the case with Wake Up Kiss ($6), a frothy, sweet, nutty drink that bombs almond milk with bagged hazelnut tecchino and yerba matte, reishi, vanilla, cinnamon, cacao, and coconut nectar.
11. Ron Teeguarden’s Dragon Herbs Mystery Tonic ($6): This serene refuge in Beverly Hills, just south of trendy shopping district, features a curved bar with stone dragon above each end, dramatic mural of deer, turtles and birds, and no menu. Experts like Gabriel will diagnose you and provide a drink that may include water based tonics, tinctures, teas or powders. Gabriel said, “I take their constitution and look and combine that with their goal for the day.” I expressed an interest in focus and energy. Gabriel provided Shaolin Inner Power, a blend good for blood flow and health that Teeguarden developed with Shaolin monks, which features jujubes, reishi, morinda and licorice root, chaga, he shou wu, eucommia, and polygala. The tonic-tender added Diamond Mind, a combination of rhodiola (grows above Himalayan snowline, increases oxygen to lungs and brain, good for clarity), astragalus (good for respiration and stamina). He finished with sweet fruit drops, aka monkfruit, which is apparently good for preventing dry lungs and skin. The frothy, tangy, not especially bitter drink did give me a buzz.
12. Tierra Mia Coffee Mocha Mexicano ($3.95): The hard charging specialty coffee chain from community-minded owner Ulysses Romero, has developed several Latin-influenced specialty beverages since opening in 2008, including a Horchata Latte and my favorite, Mocha Mexicano. This caffeinated riff on a Mexican hot chocolate features espresso whisked with hot steamed milk, raw sugar, ground chocolate, and warming cinnamon. The frothy result sips quickly and leaves sweet sludge at the bottom of the mug.