Traditional and Modern Techniques

Matcha is the pinnacle of elegance and invitation in the form of tea. It offers up a luxuriant and smooth feel on the palate with a refreshing natural taste that leaves behind a deep, lingering finish.

How to prepare matcha

You will most likely use the following steps as a basic procedure in the making of your matcha, BUT regardless of the method you use:

  1. Preheat the tea bowl with boiling water. Discard and moisten the tea whisk – commonly known as a chasen.
  2. Scoop 2 grams of matcha – which appears in the form of green powdered tea – and add approximately one teacup of hot water. (1/4 teaspoon per 6-8 ounce of water)Three piece matcha setIn the picture above, the instrument at the bottom is known as a Shashaku. The whisk is on the left and Chawan is on the right
  3. Maintain a firm hold over the bowl with one hand while whisking with the chasen from left to right to form frothy bubbles. Whisk the Matcha well so as to break up any small lumps. This assures a matchless flavour accompanied by a smooth and creamy texture.Whisking Matcha
  4. Hold the chasen in the middle of your foam and ensure that the liquid in the chasen slips off before gently removing the whisk.

Traditional

For a more traditional Japanese way of preparing Matcha green tea, consider the Usucha and the Koicha. These techniques commonly involve:

  • A bamboo spoon, known as Shashaku, to measure the tea.
  •  A Chawan, a heated tea bowl, is used as a tea container

Usucha

Usucha means “thin tea,” and is the most common method of preparation. In accordance with tourists visiting Japan, every restaurant in Japan serves Usucha.

  • Boil your water to 175ºF (around 80ºC).
  •  Pour just enough water to wet the powder slightly.
  • Use your chasen to make a paste and remove the remaining clumps – unless there are none left.
  • Add about 2-3 ounces – 60 or so ml – of water into your chawan and whisk the mixture.
  • It is preferably to be gentle on pressure and, ideally, your whisk should not touch the bottom of your bowl in order to avoid damaging the chasen’s delicate bamboo prongs.

Whisk for about 30 seconds, or until your Matcha reaches a silky, consistent froth with small bubbles. Whisk in a zig-zag pattern

Koicha

Koicha, in contrast to Usucha, is “thick tea.¨ Due to its thicker leaves, it is stronger and more vigorous. When it comes to preparing Koicha, it requires less water but more Matcha powder compared to Usucha – so that the consistency is far thicker than that of Usucha. This is the method of making Koicha:

  • Hot water of about 70-80°C is added to the Chawan.
    Matcha
  •  The tea is then whisked with the chasen.
  • It has to be whisked until it becomes smooth.
  • Whisk in a circular motion while also making a cross through the middle of the Chawan.

Koicha is made without froth and is a higher grade of Matcha, unlike Usucha, which is made from the second grade Matcha. Even though they are both considered Matcha green tea, they are not to be interchanged and mistaken. What makes them different is the quality, preparation, and use.

Koicha is thicker, thus of a higher quality. Finally, Koicha is usually served during traditional tea ceremonies, whereas Usucha has the “everyday purpose”.

As we have touched on, Matcha is usually prepared in two most common forms: Usucha and Koicha, but there is a third way: the standard way.

Modern

This standardized way requires the premium to culinary Matcha tea. The steps of this method include:

  • Mixing 1 teaspoon of Matcha powder with 2 ounces of hot water.
  • Measure out a teaspoon of Matcha into your mug 
  • Fill the mug with water heated at 175ºF. (80C) 
  • Ensure that the lid is tightly closed. 
  • With the lid tightly secured on the mug, proceed with shaking the mug vigorously – as in don’t be shy.

Alternatively, make use of an electric milk frother instead of vigorous shaking

Now that we have covered the three techniques of making your Matcha, let us be a reminder of some of the common problems you may face during your preparation.

Common Preparation Problems

  • The matcha can be extremely bitter

    • This occurs when you used water that was too hot, too much matcha, or the matcha was not whisked efficiently. It is required that the Matcha is whisked until a thick froth with many tiny bubbles has been achieved. If there are breaks in the froth which reveals the liquid underneath, or big bubbles visible on the surface, the flavour profile of the matcha will be poor compared to one that has been whisked correctly.
  • The matcha doesn’t froth as well as intended

    • This can be due to not whisking the matcha thoroughly enough but is more often due to not using enough powder and/or using too much water. If that is the case, you’ll need to either increase the powder amount or decrease the water amount. Remember, however, that this is not a problem with koicha because this method goes without froth.
  • There are clumps of powder in the prepared matcha, and/or clumps of matcha are in the mouth whilst drinking

    • The way to avoid this is to sift the matcha beforehand. Clumps of powder occur simply because the matcha wasn’t sifted.

by Kezia Futter

References:

Read about Matcha Part 1: What is Matcha