How to prepare matcha tea
For centuries, matcha tea was the drink of priests and the samurai. They would consume it before meditation during tea ceremonies.
For a long time now, matcha tea has been a key element in “The Way of the Tea”, bringing spirituality and mindfulness into people’s lives. It’s not only about consuming the tea itself, but also about slowing down and being present in the moment. Appreciating the small things in life, and how beautiful and perfect it is.
Making matcha tea the traditional way
Traditionally, there are two ways to prepare matcha tea.
Koicha (thick tea) is the highlight of tea ceremonies: this method of preparation has been used for more than 1000 years. Koicha is the true essence of tea, a thick and creamy tea medicine based upon old traditions, that has the consistency of melted chocolate. It is advised to prepare koicha with the highest quality matcha only, so you can truly enjoy the intense, special aroma of matcha tea.
Usucha is a thinner, lighter form of matcha tea with a nice layer of foam on the top that is creamy with no large bubbles.
Things you will need to prepare matcha tea:
- Chashaku - bamboo tea scoop or a teaspoon
- Chawan - ceramic tea bowl or a wide-mouth cup
- Chasen - bamboo tea whisk or a hand mixer/milk frother (note: it is very difficult to mix matcha tea powder with water using a teaspoon)
- Hand sifter
- Measuring cup
- M Matcha tea powder: for one serving of usucha, 1-2 grams (2 chashaku), for one serving of koicha, 4-5 grams (3-4 chashaku) of matcha powder is needed
- water: use 60-80 ml for usucha, use 20-40ml for koicha. Water temperature varies between 75-90 degrees Celsius, depending on tea ceremony practices and the current season. In winter, matcha is prepared with warmer water, whereas in the summer, it is prepared using cooler water. Different types of matcha tea also require different temperature water.
How to make matcha tea step by step:
- Boil the necessary amount of water and leave it to cool a little bit. Boiling water reduces water hardness, but you can also use spring water or mineral water as well.
- Pour a little bit of warm water into the chawan and soak bamboo tea whisk for a little while. This allows the whisk bristles to become softer and more flexible. Once the chawan is nicely warmed up, remove water and wipe it dry using a kitchen towel.
- - Usucha: place 1-2 grams (2 chashaku/teaspoons) of matcha powder into the chawan. It is recommended to sift the matcha powder to make it easier to mix and to avoid any clumps.
- Koicha: place 4-5 grams (3-4 chashaku/teaspoons) of matcha powder into the chawan and carefully even it out.
Note: if you had previously sifted your matcha powder into your natsume, you do not need to do it again.
- - Usucha: Once the water has cooled down a bit, pour it over your sifted matcha powder. Using the bamboo whisk, start mixing it together, then whisk the tea briskly and firmly in an "M" or "W"-shaped motion until froth forms and there are no clumps (approx. 20-30 seconds). The bamboo whisk should not be strongly pressed against the bottom of the cup. Towards the end of the whisking process, start slowing down and whisk only the froth on top to get rid of larger bubbles. You should have a nice, thick, even ‘crema’ on top with lots of tiny bubbles.
- Koicha: pour a few drops of water over your sifted matcha powder and start ‘massaging/kneeding’ it. Once combined, (it can still have smaller clumps), you may start adding more water. After that, continue mixing firmly until the desired consistency is reached: the result should be a thick, creamy tea.
Click to watch video on how to prepare usucha:
Alternative ways to prepare matcha:
If you are working with a hand mixer, simply immerse it in your tea and start frothing.
If you are using a teaspoon to mix, start with a smaller amount of water and gradually add more water to your matcha powder as if you were making pancakes.
Simply pour in water or milk at the desired temperature, sift in matcha powder and shake vigorously. The higher the quality of the matcha powder, the more it “sticks”, making it more difficult to mix. This method of preparation is recommended when using M Matcha Culinary or Premium type of matcha to make lattes.
Click to watch video on how to prepare a matcha latte using the E-mixer:
Most common mistakes when making matcha tea:
Water temperature: Was your water too hot (above 80 degrees Celsius)? The ideal temperature of the water should be 70-80 degrees Celsius. Hotter water scorches the matcha powder, making it taste bitter. If you cannot precisely measure water temperature, bring it to a boil first, then cool it down by pouring over the boiling water twice in another cup
(this will cool down the water by about 20 degrees Celsius). Another great way to test water temperature for matcha is to check if you are able to keep your hand above the steam. If it doesn’t feel burning hot anymore, it should be okay to use for the matcha powder too.
Quantity: Maybe you used too much matcha powder with too little water? Most people like to use 1g (about a teaspoon) per 80ml or 2g per 120ml, but the amount is totally up to your taste. Try experimenting a little to find your perfect ratio.
Whisking: Did you whisk it well enough? Are there any clumps remaining? The perfect matcha is whisked until a thick froth forms with lots and lots of tiny bubbles. This usually takes around 2 or 3 minutes, whisking briskly and firmly in an "M" or "W"-shaped motion. If the liquid is revealed under the froth or if there are many big bubbles visible on the surface, then keep whisking.
A tip for you: If you wish to sweeten your matcha with honey or syrup, whisk it first and then add your sweetener of choice.
Tea quality: What grade is your matcha? Not all grades are suitable for pure tea consumption. The lower the grade, the more bitter the flavor. Authentic, high-quality ceremonial grade matcha tea is shaded for several weeks before harvest and uses only the top sweet and soft baby leaves that have produced an extraordinary amount of chlorophyll and amino acids which give the matcha its unique, so-called umami flavor, turning bitter notes into sweet ones. Lower quality matcha powder is not made from the youngest leaves, therefore it is recommended to mix it with milk, or sweeten it to get that characteristic matcha flavor without the bitterness.
Related article: How do you know you are buying authentic, high quality matcha tea?
Counterfeit: Did you purchase just regular green tea powder instead of matcha? If your matcha was too cheap, there is a high chance that your matcha is not actually matcha. Matcha is a green tea powder but not all green tea powders are matcha. Quality matters! Perhaps some important steps were skipped or accelerated during the process, like the plant not being shaded for long enough or the leaves might not have been carefully picked and dried. Or maybe the leaves were not ground using granite millstones, but ceramic ones, which is a cheaper, faster way but has a negative impact on the powder since it is heated up more and can be scorched easier.
Storage: Matcha powder is precious, it has to be taken care of. Note that matcha powder does not like too much heat or light, therefore it should be kept in a cool and dry place, like the fridge, preferably not close to cheese, as inadequate storage can significantly decrease matcha quality.
Modern matcha consumption - unique recipes
Matcha has undoubtedly taken over the world. Besides the traditional method of preparation, it is now being consumed in the most unique and delicious ways. Social media is full of amazing matcha latte creations, which can now be found at more and more cafés, prepared hot or cold, flavored or unflavored, made with regular or plant milk... The possibilities really are endless, everyone can find their favorite way to drink matcha latte.
Matcha is also perfect for making energizing smoothies, healthy desserts, ice cream and other treats.
Click here to get some recipe inspiration!