5 steps for making a perfect matcha

Posted by Zach Mangan on

I was recently asked by epicurious to come to their offices to speak about purchasing, preparing and enjoying matcha. I spend all day doing all of those things and it occurred to me that sometimes I become a little disconnected from the trials of combing the internet for reliable information on how to make matcha. And furthermore the sense of unease that can accompany purchasing and getting into drinking matcha. ("Is this matcha actually worth the cost?" - "Can I trust this company?" - "I am embarrassed to say I think matcha kinda tastes like pond water" "I know this matcha is cheap but I like it".) my point is, matcha can be a bit intimidating to build a relationship with. And it shouldn't be that way.

I am a firm believer you do not need to be an expert to enjoy something. Running can be enjoyable without understanding exercise physiology, but knowing which shoes will give you the most comfort makes getting into running much easier. Delicious wine can be delicious without the approval of a sommelier (although the help and guidance of a good somm is a fast track to finding what you love). It can be tricky to decipher what is really "Good" and intimidating to get started. Today this ends and you can learn how to prepare your own matcha tea in 5 easy steps. We hope you enjoy our comprehensive step-by-step guide and that now you too can start making great matcha today!

Matcha Making Process At A Glance

1. Bring your water to a full boil and then pour 65g into a small cup to cool slightly

2. Scoop 1.5 - 2.g of matcha into a strainer over your tea bowl and strain

3. Once the water cools to around 170-180°F (77-82°C), add it to the matcha powder

4. Gently knead the matcha into the water and then whisk in a vigorous "Z" pattern until a foam appears

5. Lift your whisk to the surface of the foam and continue gently whisking to create a micro foam. Support your bowl from the bottom, raise to your lips and enjoy

Start with the right tools

The key to make a bowl of great matcha is to ensure that you have the correct tools for the job. Before we begin, it is best to have the following:

  1.  Chasen (Matcha Whisk) 
  2. Chawan (Matcha Bowl)
  3. Chashaku (Tea Scoop)
  4. Strainer
  5. Matcha

Step 1: Heat The Water

Boil your water. It is true that a water temperature below a boil (175-180f) is ideal for matcha but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t boil your water. Always bring fresh spring water to a boil and then allow it to cool. Don’t turn the kettle off before a boil - the actual process of boiling the water makes a significant difference in teas overall character. As water moves toward the boiling point, the dissolved oxygen in the water changes enhancing the flavor of the tea. Once the water is off a boil, pour a small amount into your tea bowl - allow the water to sit and heat the bowl for about a minute. You can then pour that water off and pat dry the bowl. The act of preparing to make tea is naturally relaxing if you are in the right environment and frame of mind. There is something about making matcha that naturally lends itself to calming the mind and creating a sense of space - I experience this much more with matcha than other types of tea. Of course, your practice of making tea is your own.

Step 2: Sift Your Matcha

You now want to portion out about 3 spoonfuls of matcha with a chashaku (Japanese bamboo matcha scoop). The total amount of matcha should be between 1.5 - 2g for a single bowl of matcha. It is important that the matcha is sifted to avoid clumps and to improve mouthfeel. You can pre-sift into a canister or sift directly into the bowl. Do note, pre-sifting large batches can sometimes prove pointless - clumping in matcha most often happens due to static electricity that builds up between the small particles of tea. If the tea is sifted and sits for an extended period, the clumps may return. Use your judgement.

Step 3: Pour The Water

I like to pour the water from the kettle (likely now around 195-200f) into an intermediary pouring vessel like a yuzamashi or even just a tea cup. This allows the water too cool slightly to a perfect 175-180°F. Don’t allow your water to become too cool - this will hinder the matcha foam “coming together” and will do more harm than good for the outcome of your final matcha. I then pour from the cup over into the tea bowl. We recommend roughly 2oz - or about 65g - of water for a single bowl of matcha. We also recommend using a softer, filtered water. We use Poland Spring exclusively in our shop as we find the results wonderful.

Step 4: Whisk The Water And Tea

Use a bamboo whisk (chasen) to fold the water and tea together first. Next, begin by whisking in a rapid “z” motion. You want the whisk to be touching the bottom of the bowl and create a mild friction. Use your wrist in a paddling motion (the motion of shooing away a fly) and aim for the widest lateral movement possible. I try to whisk from one edge of the bowl to the other. Avoid a short pattern that just stays in the middle of the bowl - go for it! (but avoid whisking a circle). After about 15 seconds, raise your whisk to slightly and lightly whisk along the top of the matcha to work out any large and uneven bubbles. This will also enhance creaminess and texture. Aim for the texture of the micro foam of espresso or meringue.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Matcha

Drink directly from the bowl in roughly three sips using your non dominant hand to support the bowl from the bottom - savor the moment but don’t wait too long. A matcha is a suspension of tea particles and water and does not improve over time.

At Kettl we offer a wide range of matcha tea and all the tools you need to make great matcha. Visit our store for more details.

Photos and music by Zach Mangan / Videos by Bryan Anton

All words, music, photos and videos © Kettl Tea, Inc / Do not use without permission

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