How to prepare matcha tea like a Japanese

Matcha tea is probably the most deeply rooted tea in Japanese culture and traditions. If you’ve decided to try making your first mug at home, there are a few things you should know. We teach you how to prepare matcha tea like a real Japanese. 

Introduction to matcha tea

This bright green tea is the one that is served during the traditional Japanese tea ceremony but it is also a common ingredient in its typical pastries and it is also easy to find it in more modern formats such as ice creams, milkshakes and pastries of any kind. It can be said that the Japanese live a true madness for matcha.

Matcha tea strands out for being intense, with the typical vegetable aromas of the green tea family but, in addition, it incorporates the fifth flavor that your palate can recognize: umami, a word that could be translated as “tasty”. In conclusion: it is a tea with a creamy body that will not leave you indifferent.

Although at first glance it may seem complicated, you will see that with our tips you will be able to prepare a matcha to suck your fingers and with all the health properties of green teas.

Before you start: tools needed

The tea ceremony is rigorous when it comes to the utensils needed to prepare matcha, but we are going to be flexible, right?

To prepare matcha like a Japanese you do not necessarily need all the utensils that tradition marks. In fact, you can make do with what you have at home and still enjoy a wonderful infusion.

Speaking specifically of the utensils to serve matcha at home, we are going to need:

  • A sieve to remove any possible lumps from the matcha. You can use a fine strainer.
  • A wooden spatula to help pass the matcha through the sieve. It is not strictly necessary.
  • chawan: is the ceramic bowl for tea. You can replace it with a bowl or a normal cup of tea as long as you have enough space to effectively whisk the preparation. 
  • chashaku: this is a traditional bamboo spoon with which the sifted matcha will be placed in the chawan. You can do without it and measure with a teaspoon.
  • chasen – a bamboo whisk used to achieve an even, creamy consistency of tea. It is the only specific utensil that we do recommend using at home to obtain the desired consistency and flavor. If you don’t have one, you can try a metal whisk, but it’s not ideal. 
  • A normal kettle to pour hot water.

In addition to these, the following accessories are used in the tea ceremony, but you can safely do without them.

  • chaki, the container where the matcha is kept.
  • A cloth to clean the utensils before starting the tea ceremony.
  • A cloth to clean the chawan after each guest’s meal.
  • A bamboo spoon to serve hot water.

Before you begin: considerations and common mistakes

The first advice we give you, of course, is to buy a good quality matcha tea. We have tried some of the commercial brands that can be found today in many supermarkets and, honestly, they are still not up to what a specialized store can provide you.

Matcha keeps well if you store it under the right conditions. Always keep it in an airtight jar and store it in a cool place, away from heat, moisture and light.

Another important point to keep in mind is to avoid using water that is too hot. The water to prepare matcha tea should be around 80℃ (between 70 and 85℃). If you exceed this temperature, you will promote the appearance of bitter flavors in your tea, so be careful.

The third point that you must take into consideration is the type of matcha that you want to prepare. In Japan, they prepare two varieties of matcha, the usucha (light) and koicha (dense). They differ, as their names suggest, in the density of the infusion. This is perhaps twisting the loop, but to prepare koicha, the matcha is beaten in a more spaced and calm way, seeking to simply mix and obtain a thick and creamy texture. For the usucha, it is beaten faster and in a zig zag to generate the typical foam on top of the preparation.

For a lighter tea (called matcha usucha tea) you will need as little as 2g of matcha powder per 80ml of water, while if you want a denser and more concentrated tea (matcha koicha), you will need to increase the amount to 4g per 40ml. In general, to drink a matcha at home, you will go for the lighter version, but that depends on your palate.

How to make matcha tea at home

Well, let’s go there! This is the process to brew your cup of matcha like a pro.

  1. Measure: to start the preparation, measure the amount needed per cup with the spoon. Remember that matcha is usually taken in small doses, try 2 grams of matcha that you will then mix with 80 ml of water. If you don’t have this special spoon, don’t worry: a teaspoon is about the equivalent of 2 grams, which is what you’ll need for a light matcha.
  2. Sieve. To do this, she uses a bowl and pours the tea into a fine strainer over it. Gently move it sideways, until the tea passes through the strainer and falls into the bowl below it. If there are any lumps, press down with a wooden spatula or spoon. Be sure to remove any lumps that might be present in the tea, otherwise you will spoil the texture of the brew.
  3. Heats up. The Japanese are very thorough. They recommend pre-heating the bowl and the chasen (bamboo whisk). To do this, pour a little hot water into a second bowl and put the chasen in it for a few moments. Empty the bowl and dry it carefully.
  4. bat. Put the tea carefully into this second bowl and gently start pouring the water over it. Then use the chasen to vigorously whisk the mixture. Beat back and forth in a zig zag fashion, not in a circular motion or as if you were making an omelette. If you have no choice, use a whisk, although it is not recommended because it is said that the metal could affect the final flavor of the infusion.
  5. Taste. When there are no lumps and you notice a slight foam on top, your matcha is ready. Drink it from the same bowl before it gets cold.

The tea ceremony

The famous tea ceremony follows certain movements, timed to achieve a kind of choreography. Each step is perfectly timed.

First, the tea is sifted, but instead of placing the tea powder directly into the bowl, it is placed in the chaki.

Subsequently, any trace of dust is removed from each of the utensils with a cloth. Then, the tea is served in the bowl with the bamboo spoon and the hot water with the help of the water spoon, and then shake vigorously with the chasen until any possible lumps are dissolved, always being careful not to stain the edges of the bowl.

The tea is presented to the first guest with the drawing of the bowl facing him. It will be this person who gives you a half turn, before taking the first sip, after pronouncing a thank you and an apology for drinking the tea in the first place. It is worth noting that the drawing of the bowl should not be stained, for this reason it should always face out when we drink.

Once the first guest has finished tasting the tea, they will approach the bowl with the drawing looking at the person who is serving, who will take it and clean it with the help of a little hot water and the white cloth. To serve the second guest, the same procedure is repeated. Yes, as you read, in the tea ceremony everyone drinks from the same bowl.

Prepare your matcha tea

Now yes! You are ready to start. Enjoy a comforting cup of matcha tea in the comfort of your own home. Once you try it, you will not be able to resist its incredible aroma and flavor again.

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