Matcha: the Preparation of Japan’s Green Tea Powder
Last updated: 11 July 2018
With the right tools and a good dose of patience, preparing matcha is not as hard as it might seem. However, mastering the entire procedure is a different matter. Still, by following the proper routine and with a bit of practice, you won’t have any problem with preparing a delicious, authentic cup of matcha tea right at home.
Choosing the Right Tools
You will need several items to prepare a tasty cup of matcha the right way:
・A matcha bowl (chawan, 茶碗)
・A bamboo whisk (chasen, 茶せん)
・A bamboo scoop (chashaku, 茶杓)
・A linen tea cloth (chakin, 茶巾)
・A matcha sifter (matcha furui, 抹茶篩)
It is important to try, whenever possible, to avoid using western utensils to prepare matcha. Otherwise, this would likely lead to a poor experience.
Also, you need to decide which type of matcha you would like to make. There are two main types: usucha (薄茶, thin tea) and koicha (濃茶, thick tea). The difference between the two is the amount of matcha and water used in the preparation.
Usucha is the standard way of preparing matcha and is the one mostly consumed on a daily basis. It uses younger plants and must have a nice frothy lather. Koicha doesn't have cream and should be used only with higher grades of matcha that comes from the first harvest of plants that are 30 years old at least. Otherwise, the tea will taste very bitter.
Once everything is ready, it is time to start the preparation.
How to Make Matcha
Naturally, there is an entire sequence to pay attention to when engaging in the act of tea ceremony but for general preparation, it takes only three simple steps.
・Preheat the bowl. For the best result, don't forget to pre-warm the tea bowl. Fill it about 1/3 with hot water, and wet the tips of the prongs of the whisk in it. Before adding the matcha powder, pour out the water and dry the bowl thoroughly with a chakin or a cloth. Use the chashaku and measure out 70ml for the preparation of usucha (thin tea), or 40ml for koicha (thick tea).
・Add the matcha powder. Measure the matcha powder with the chashaku. Take about 2 scoops for the preparation of usucha or 4 scoops for koicha. If you sift the matcha power by using a matcha sifter, it will be easier to mix it with the water. When you add the water, make sure that it is not boiling - around 70°C / 158°F or 80°C / 176°F is usually right. One way to reach the proper temperature is simple to boil the water and let it cool down in a separate cup.
・Whisk - Use the tip of the chasen to whisk the tea, thus breaking up small lumps of powder. Try to start slowly and gradually pick up speed.
For usucha, whisk the matcha, using your wrist, in a quickly "m" or "w" motion until it becomes foamy with tiny bubbles on the surface. Unlike other types of teas, the fine particles do not dissolve and become suspended in the hot water during this process. You can also whisk the surface in the end to produce fine foam.
For koicha, use the whisk to tenderly knead the match in a up-down, left-right motion and a rotation. While doing that, slowly pour about 40ml of hot water. If it is too thick, add some more. Once the consistency seems alright, serve!
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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
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