Here we are, back with our series of articles about the mighty green powder: matcha 抹茶!
The trend of matcha has taken over the world. Nevertheless, sometimes people can be taken aback from its preparation, due to the image of this tea, being part of the Japanese tea ceremony. “A powdered tea?! How can I prepare it?” “Temperature of water!?” “How much equipment do I need for this?!” “Doesn’t it involve a whole ritual?!”. Sometimes a new thing can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. Tea is very complex, but also very simple. Same it goes for matcha! We would like to give you our suggestions on how to prepare matcha and get a good result.
USUCHA – a bowl of “thin matcha”, the traditional way. Or one of the few: keep in mind that each chado school has its way of preparing the tea. Moreover, each person can enjoy tea in a different way. This is our advise, but always feel free to experiment and try other ways. Matcha can be prepared as the centre of a chado ceremony, only by experienced tea masters that would have taken years to study the art of tea. That is a beautiful experience and a very special way of having tea. An honour, I’d say. Nevertheless, a bowl of matcha can also be prepared in one’s home, with simplicity but skillfully. This does not involve necessarily having studied cha-no-yu. Ready? Put your kettle on and boil some hot water. After that, use some of it to warm the tea bowl that you will use. Soak in the chasen (bamboo whisk) for a short time, just enough to soften it up. Discard that water and dry the bowl. Place two chashaku (tea scoops) of previously filtered matcha – that is roughly 1.2 grams of tea. Now you will need around 70-80 ml of hot water – by now, the water you previously boiled will be probably at around 90ºC. Pour first just a little bit in the bowl and gently dissolve the powder with the chasen. Then pour the rest and start whisking energetically, trying to keep your arm straight and just moving your wrist. After a few seconds, slowly raise the chasen from the bottom and keep whisking a little bit slower in a W motion. This should make a creamy and frothy matcha! But no worries if at first you don’t get a perfect result. You might need to practice a bit. And, to be honest, the foam is not mandatory: each school has its own view, some prefer the foam, some others don’t. Although the texture of the tea with the foam is indeed creamy and very likeable.
If you still see the act of preparing matcha with a chasen and using a Japanese tea bowl as something complex, you could try using a milk frother. Not common in Japan, where they have electric chasens instead, but it is very widespread anywhere else.
To be honest, we do not recommend the milk frother at all. We don’t want to sound picky, but the chasen is the perfect item to dissolve the matcha. Centuries after it was created, it is still the best by far. The thin multiple and flexible tines make the powder blend perfectly with the water, while a milk frother doesn’t dissolve the tea completely and leave some clumps. This would result in a less creamy matcha, a less balanced tea but also in making you chew on little clods of powder – which is really unpleasant. Also the time taken to make a proper matcha is very valuable and brings back the essence of tea. Taking a little bit of time to pause, thinking about the tea, preparing the items and concentrating for one minute on the preparation is actually a peaceful moment that will make you appreciate the tea even more. In our present lives, where everything is in a hurry, the time that tea demands comes as a treat for ourselves, as a break to slow down for a few minutes. Moreover, matcha takes so much effort to be produced: why should one drink it in a hurry?
Well.. you still think that preparing a matcha the traditional way is a hassle? It takes too much time for you and you cannot get an electric chasen? Don’t just give up on matcha. There is a quick way (but much less charming!) of getting a very similar result.
I’m not kidding 🙂 Take a shaker or something similar – it can even be a glass container with a very tight lid. Place matcha and water inside, close it very well and shake it for a few seconds. The powder dissolves quite well and it gives some foam! Serve it in a bowl, a glass or drink it from the shaker. Enjoy it however you prefer.