Updated: Sep 2
Matcha, also known as powdered green tea, is one of the most famous Japanese teas out there. Even though it has been used in Japan during centuries due to its health properties, it did not become popular in the Western countries until about 15 years ago.
If you haven't heard about matcha before, there is a lot of information here.
But why is matcha so popular?
Firstly, it has an amazing bright green colour that makes it to stand out. It is very eye catchy and it looks gorgeous on Instagram. There are millions of photographs featuring matcha in all sorts of drinks and foods among other things such as natural cosmetics.
Secondly, it really tastes good. I am not talking about that nasty almost brown stuff that you get in a Chinese store or a supermarket, but rather about the good stuff that is made by reliable Japanese tea farms, manufactured in the correct way and well preserved in opaque airtight containers until is delivered to you, the end consumer.
Good matcha can cost a pretty penny, however, is completely worth it.
So you have purchased good quality matcha, have brewed it and it didn't taste good. But why? One of the main reasons usually is that the matcha was promoted and sold as Ceremonial Grade (which indicates that it has been specifically produced to be used in the Tea Ceremony (or to be consumed as is) yet it wasn't. There are many knock-offs out there so please remember to source your matcha from a reputable vendor who has deep knowledge on Japanese teas. Just because it says Premium or Ceremonial Grade it doesn't mean it actually is.
But there is also another reason that many people tend to overlook, the water temperature. Is this even important? Absolutely! Green teas, in general, have a large number of catechins, which are released during the brewing process. The warmer the water, the easier is for the catechins to come out and the bitter the taste.
Let's do a test! Boil the water and use it immediately to brew your matcha. How does it taste? Probably extremely bitter. Why? Because boiling water is at 100 degrees Celsius, which means the catechins were released immediately.
Now, let's try something different. Pour the water in a watercooler (known as yuzamashi in Japan) and let it cool down for a minute or two. Then prepare your matcha. Did you notice any difference? The flavour is much more mellow and palatable since the water wasn't boiling and the catechins haven't had the time to be released fast.
Definitely the temperature of the water has a direct impact on the brew quality. And not only for matcha brewing but for any kind of tea, no matter if green, black or white.
I brew teas daily including matcha, this is why I have developed an easy foolproof way to prepare it without making it taste bitter. Would you like to know how to do it? Keep reading!
What do you need to brew matcha?
First of all, you will need some matcha brewing tools:
Matcha Whisk (made out of bamboo, known as chasen)
Matcha Scoop (made out of bamboo, known as chashaku)
Matcha Bowl (made out of different materials such as earthenware, clay..., known as chawan)
Watercooler (made out of different materials such as clay, porcelain..., known as yuzamashi)
Strainer (usually made out of metal) Naoshi (whisk holder, usually made of ceramic)
Water and of course matcha. Ideally, the matcha will be stored in an airtight opaque container in the fridge in order to preserve all its qualities intact for as long as possible. It can be also stored in the freezer if you have a high-quality one which doesn't produce ice plaques.
How do you brew your matcha?
Boil 100 ml of water
Pour some water in the matcha bowl (chawan)
Whisk the hot water so the whisk prongs become flexible (a chasen with thin prongs can be used)
Discard the water
Dry the bowl with a kitchen towel or a piece of paper
Pour 70 ml of water in the yuzamashi
Take the matcha out of the fridge
Scoop some matcha out of the container using the matcha scoop (1.5 grams or 1 chashaku scoop, I use 3 grams)
Use the strainer to sift the matcha into the bowl
Pour the water on top of the matcha powder
Whisk the mixture of matcha powder and water making an M like movement left/right/left
Enjoy your brew!
It is worth noting that this method is used to brew usucha or thin tea.
Make sure the matcha whisk gets properly cleaned after each use but do not dampen it too much or it can catch mould. Ideally, you will have a matcha holder (called naoshi) to place the whisk in so it doesn't lose its shape.
Can I brew matcha using other utensils?
While specific matcha brewing utensils are recommended since they have been designed with this purpose in mind, you could use similar utensils that might do the job kind of ok. The most difficult one to imitate is the chasen way of making the tea and water mix together, since mixing the matcha by other means might not yield the desired results. For example, you might get a lot of small lumps which are very unpleasant to find in your brew.
The more you practice, the easier it will become to brew your matcha daily. It will become a habit and it will be so natural for you to brew matcha that you will be left wondering if there was a time in the past when you did not know how it was done.
Are you ready for the matcha challenge? Go!
Brew your matcha and let me know in the comments how did it go! PLEASE READ! The aim of this blog is to help you to improve your Japanese tea knowledge one article at a time. If you enjoyed this post don't forget to hit like (the little heart bottom right) & consider to subscribe to the blog so you don't miss any of the future posts. You can also find me on Instagram (daily Japanese tea-based pairings plus occasional giveaways) & Tik Tok (Japanese tea-based drinks.) The Spanish version of this article should be released at some point on the Spanish blog. And if you haven't done so, subscribe to the newsletter and get 10% OFF from your first order. Shipping within the EU currently.
Keep sipping on great organic whole leaf Japanese teas! Until next Monday!