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August 6, 2022  |  Food & Drink

How to make a perfect cup of matcha tea

With its coveted health benefits, vivid green hue, and ability to provide non-jittery energy, it’s easy to see why matcha is so popular. Its ritual preparation method also offers a moment for mindfulness and relaxation amid the stresses of modern life. If you’re curious about incorporating matcha into your routine but feel intimidated by the equipment and techniques that go hand-in-hand with this time-honored beverage, don’t worry: Matcha is easy to prepare at home.

What is matcha?

How matcha is made

Matcha is made from powdered, high-grade Japanese green tea. Before harvesting, the tea leaves are shaded from the sun to preserve the tea’s high levels of caffeine as well as L-theanine, an amino acid that balances the astringency of green tea’s antioxidant-rich polyphenols. After harvest, the tea leaves are laid flat to dry, and then they are stone-ground into the recognizable fine powder.

Matcha health benefits

The green tea used to make matcha is so nutrient-packed that it’s found its way into everything from baked goods to skin care. Since drinking matcha tea allows you to consume the whole leaf, rather than steeping it, you’ll get a much stronger dose of nutrients.

  • L-theanine works with caffeine to promote sustained, non-jittery energy. Matcha powder contains up to five times more L-theanine than green tea.
  • Chlorophyll helps the body flush out toxins and heavy metals.
  • Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is the most powerful polyphenol found in green tea, and matcha contains more than 130 times the amount of EGCG found in regular green tea. It offers antioxidant protection and can reduce inflammation.
  • Catechins, including EGCG, are also a good source of antioxidants to promote cellular health.

Traditional matcha preparation

Usucha

Usucha, or “thin tea,” is the more common method of traditionally preparing matcha. It’s made with more water than koicha, so the flavor is milder. If you want to try a traditional matcha drink, usucha is a good place to start.

Koicha

Koicha, or “thick tea,” is typically the beverage made for Japanese tea ceremonies. It has a thicker consistency, no foam, and less water to let the matcha’s flavors come through more strongly. This preparation should use the highest quality matcha possible.

If you’re curious about incorporating matcha into your routine but feel intimidated by the equipment and techniques that go hand-in-hand with this time-honored beverage, don’t worry: Matcha is easy to prepare at home.

How to make matcha perfectly

Boil water

Start by bringing fresh water to a boil in a kettle. Use some of the hot water to warm up the matcha bowl and moisten the chasen, the bamboo whisk used in matcha preparation. To prevent the boiled water from scorching the powder and affecting its flavor, let it cool down to between 170° and 180°.

Preparing matcha

Using a chashaku, or bamboo scoop, run 1/2 teaspoon of matcha powder through a sieve into your chawan, or tea bowl, to break up lumps. Add 1/2 ounce of water. Using the chasen, whisk the mixture until smooth.

Whisking matcha

Add the rest of the boiled and cooled water to the matcha paste. You’ll need about 1/3 cup of water for koicha and 1/2 cup for usucha. Using a light grip, whisk the matcha until the powder is incorporated. Drink immediately so the powder doesn’t settle.

Other matcha preparations

Matcha tea

If usucha is too strong for you, try this method. Mix 1 teaspoon of matcha powder into 12 ounces of water that’s been boiled and slightly cooled. Stir until the powder is fully mixed. If you like, you can sweeten this drink with brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey. Try using different ratios of water to matcha powder until you find a flavor balance you like.

Iced matcha

Mix 1 teaspoon of high-quality matcha with eight ounces of cold water. Stir vigorously to incorporate the matcha powder, then serve over ice. If you want a sweeter beverage, try syrup sweetener, such as honey or agave. It’ll dissolve better in the cold drink than sugar crystals.

Matcha latte

Make a paste by whisking together 1 1/2 teaspoons of matcha powder and 1 ounce of boiled and cooled water. Mix in 1 teaspoon of your preferred sweetener, then add 6 ounces of heated milk and stir. Try experimenting with different milks. Alternative milks, such as rice or oat milk, will naturally contribute more sweetness.

FAQ

Q. How should I store matcha?

A. Like coffee, matcha loses its freshness quickly once it’s ground. Store matcha in an opaque, airtight container. Keep it in the fridge or freezer, and use it within one to two months after opening for the best flavor.  

Q. How do I choose matcha powder?

A. Matcha can taste fresh and floral, light and grassy, or savory and earthy. Read the tasting notes to get a feel for how the matcha will taste.

The matcha’s grade (ceremonial, premium, or culinary) can also hint at how it will taste. If you’re new to matcha, stick with middle-of-the-road premium matcha. Ceremonial grade tea is more expensive and most likely too nuanced to be worthwhile to a novice drinker, while culinary matcha is better suited to baking or mixing into smoothies.

Matcha accessories

Matcha whisk

Look for a chasen that’s made in Japan from a single piece of bamboo. The chasen’s thin bamboo tines help aerate the tea to make it frothy as well as help distribute the matcha powder. For beginners, a prong count of 70 to 100 is sufficient. Rinse the whisk in hot water after each use to clean it, and let it air dry before storing.

If you’re in a hurry or need to mix your matcha in a taller container, you can also use a milk frother.

Matcha tea sets

Buying a tea set that offers everything you need is a cost-effective way to add a full matcha ritual to your daily routine. The essential pieces are the whisk, the bowl, and the measuring spoon, but some tea sets may also come with a whisk holder, sifter, tea towel, and more.

Matcha bowl

Matcha bowls can be made from ceramic or glass and come in a range of sizes and shapes. Look for a chawan with gently rounded sides and a diameter of around 5 inches.

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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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