Sunday, November 20, 2016

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Matcha

How difficult can it be to make a cup of tea?

Brewing a cup of matcha is not quite as simple as it seems. It's certainly not difficult but there are some things to consider.

I mean, sure... you can simply mix a scoop of powder in some hot water and you'll have a cup of tea ready to drink in no time. By following this simple approach though, you may find yourself rather unimpressed with the taste of your matcha. No need to worry though, even a complete novice can easily prepare this delicious beverage with a little practice.

Below you'll find just a few simple ways to brew up some great tasting matcha...

Remember these are guidelines, you may find that you enjoy your matcha prepared differently!

Traditional Methods


A beautiful, handmade chawan depicting flying cranes.
A chawan typically used to serve matcha.

To prepare matcha in the traditional manner, you will need at least two items: a tea bowl known as a chawan (茶碗) and a bamboo whisk or chasen (茶筅). These utensils may be purchased online or at a local tea or coffee shop. If you don't have either of these items don't worry, you can simply use a coffee mug and spoon if need be. A mug and spoon are much less efficient but these will work in a pinch. Just don't expect your matcha to froth and mix as easily with a spoon.

A traditional bamboo chasen used to whisk matcha.
A bamboo chasen used to whisk matcha.

Note: A traditional chashaku (茶杓), or tea spoon may also be used to scoop your matcha; however, this utensil is optional since a simple measuring spoon will work just as well (2 chashaku scoops is roughly the equivalent of 1 tsp of matcha).

There are two traditional preparations of matcha: usucha (薄茶) and koicha (濃茶). Usucha, or "thin tea," is the most common method of preparing matcha. If you purchase freshly brewed matcha at a restaurant or tea shop you will most likely receive a cup or bowl of usucha. Koicha "thick tea" is a much less common, bolder matcha preparation. Usucha generally appeals to a wider range of palates than koicha, hence its popularity. Usucha is a light and foamy while koicha is thick and viscous.

A bamboo tea spoon.
A traditional chashaku used for scooping matcha powder.

How to Prepare Usucha


1.) Add 1 tsp (2 g) of matcha to an empty mug or tea bowl.

2.) To avoid clumping, add a small amount of cool water and stir or whisk matcha into a thick paste.

3.) Add 2-3 fl oz of hot water (160-175 °F) and stir or whisk briskly until a light green foam appears on the surface of tea.

4.) Sip and enjoy!

Freshly prepared usucha.
A chawan full of frothy, delicious usucha.







Koicha


The preparation of koicha only differs slightly from that of usucha. The amount water and matcha used are really the only variables. To prepare a delicious bowl of koicha simply follow these steps:

1.) Add 2 tsp (4 g) of matcha to an empty mug or tea bowl.

2.) To avoid clumping, add a small amount of cool water and stir or whisk matcha into a thick paste.

3.) Add 1-2 fl oz of hot water (160-175 °F) and slowly stir or 'knead' matcha into a thick, gelatinous tea.

4.) Again, sip and enjoy!

Fresh brewed koicha.
A tea bowl full of savory, dark green koicha.

Water

Some people may find traditional matcha preparations a little too strong for their taste. Often, this has to do with the amount of water used to prepare both usucha and koicha. For matcha novices, we recommend increasing the amount of water used to prepare usucha by a few ounces. One teaspoon of matcha for every 6-8 fl oz of water seems to be the sweet spot for newbies. This is what I recommend to those who are new to TORA Ceremonial Matcha. If traditional usucha is too strong for you then definitely steer clear of koicha!

The pristine running water of a mountain stream.
It's always best to use pure spring water when brewing matcha.

Aside from the amount of water used to prepare matcha, the type of water can also greatly affect the overall taste of the tea. Using tap water is not recommended since many of the chemicals used to purify the water can significantly alter the natural flavor of matcha. Unless the water in your area is exceptionally clean and pure, I recommend that you use a quality bottled spring water instead. Water containing naturally high amounts of minerals and electrolytes (Fiji and Waiākea etc.) are particularly good choices. The clean, silky taste of these waters perfectly complements the sweet, mellow, earthy flavor of premium grade matcha.

I hope these tips help you to better understand how to brew the perfect cup of matcha! Like I said before... it's not as easy as it looks but it's certainly not rocket science either.

So grab a bag of TORA Ceremonial Matcha and get started today! We promise you'll get the hang of it in no time!