Making A Perfect Bowl Of Matcha
1. Boil your water. It is true that a water temperature below a near boil (180-190f) is ideal for matcha but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t boil your water first. 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 and while I can't explain it scientifically, it enhances 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.
2. 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. 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.
3. 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 180°F. Don’t allow your water to become to cool - this will hinder the matcha foam “coming together” and will do more harm than good for the outcome of your final matcha.
4. Use a bamboo whisk (chasen) to fold the water and tea together. Begin whisking in a rapid “z” motion. You want the whisk to be touching the bottom of the bowl and have some friction, but please don’t smash it into the bowl either. 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).
5. After about 20 seconds you can bring your whisk the surface and gently and slowly whisk away any large bubbles. The surface should look like a tightly woven micro foam - think espresso or meringue.
6. Drink directly from the bowl in roughly 3 sips - savor the moment but don’t wait too long. A matcha is a suspension of tea particles and water and doesn’t not improve over time.