The ancient art of preparing tea from powder form dates back to at least 12th century China. The practice was essentially abandoned by the Chinese but later adopted by the Japanese who integrated the preparation style into a ritual called chadō, or The Way of Tea. The Japanese have long used matcha in ceremonial practices emphasizing four essential qualities: respect, harmony, purity and tranquility. In modern times, matcha is enjoyed in both formal and informal settings as its health benefits have become more widely appreciated.
Here's a brief video tutorial showing you the steps to prepare matcha for your enjoyment.
While the following tools are consistent with those used in traditional Japanese preparation methods, we list contemporary tools as well to illustrate the ease in which you can integrate healthful matcha into your life with relative simplicity.
Chawan - the bowl used for preparing matcha. The shape, size and design of the bowl is often determined by the preferences of the user or the formalness of the occasion. Virtually any wide-mouth bowl-shaped vessel will do.
Chasen - the bamboo whisk has delicate layered tines used to agitate and suspend the powdered tea in the water. Some modern approaches may include use of an electric milk frother or small immersion blender.
Chashaku - traditional bamboo scoops measure about 1.5 grams of matcha powder, the amount sought for most six to eight ounce servings. A 1/2 teaspoon measuring scoop is a fine alternative.
Sifter - a fine sifter is used to break up any clumping of the dry powder resulting from packaging and storage. While sifting isn't a requirement for preparing matcha, it certainly helps to produce a creamier, more frothy texture.
Whisk Holder - a small ceramic whisk holder helps to preserve the shape of the bamboo whisk while separating the tines for drying.
Basic Steps of Preparation
There are two primary styles of matcha preparation: Usucha and Koicha.
Usucha, or thin tea (left photo), is the preparation style most frequently encountered while koicha, or thick tea (right photo), is nearly paste-like or having a consistency of thick syrup.
For daily consumption or use of matcha in recipes, usucha is most common.
Usucha, thin style preparation (6-8 oz serving)
- Sift 1.5 gram (slightly heaping 1/2 teaspoon) into bowl.
- Add 2-3 ounces of 160-180 F degree filtered water.*
- Briskly whisk the liquid using a "W" or back and forth action until frothy. For best results, once powder is suspended into liquid off the bottom of the bowl, maintain whisk motion near top surface of liquid to prevent large bubbles.
- Gently add remaining water to reach desired strength.
Koicha, thick style preparation
- Sift 3 to 4 grams (two level teaspoons) matcha into bowl.
- Add 1 to 1.5 ounces of 160-180 F degree filtered water.
- Use whisk to slowly knead ingredients together until desired texture is reached.
*Note: matcha may be prepared using cold water for an iced matcha refresher, for use in cold drinks or when using matcha in recipes.