The perfect matcha
Unveiling the secrets of preparing the ultimate bowl of matcha
When people say they want the perfect matcha, they probably mean attaining the famed mental focus and calmness.
First-time matcha drinkers often get frustrated with getting bitter, flat, washed-out green matcha, but you don’t have to go through the same struggle as we’ve laid down the secrets of concocting the perfect matcha.
The matcha powder
As most of matcha shopping occurs online, it can be hard to ascertain if the labels on the tin reflect the quality of powder inside. You’d have to wait until it arrives on your doorstep but general guidelines to buying high-quality matcha are the following:
- Japanese matcha is superior than those grown elsewhere (mostly China). Japanese farms have strict guidelines to comply just to have their matcha farm up and running, so rest assured that your matcha’s shrub-to-tin journey has been under the same standards
- Know your matcha grades. Ceremonial grade matcha is for drinking matcha tea, culinary matcha is for adding matcha to food. The grade also determines price: ceremonial matcha is pricier than culinary matcha. As for the taste: ceremonial matcha is sweet, culinary matcha is bitter.
Taste and flavor aside, the perfect matcha is about the experience. The Japanese tea ceremony originated with matcha, and thus the same reverence with regards to the techniques and tools should be shown. You can substitute kitchen tools for sifting and scooping but be discriminating with these two:
- The ‘chasen’ or whisk used to mix the matcha powder with water produces a rich, fine foam you can’t get using an electric frother.
- A good bowl. Mugs, while having limited space for whisking, is a good place to start, but if you’re looking to make a daily bowl of matcha a habit, treat yourself to a bowl that you like.
When you’ve got high quality matcha powder, the whisk and the bowl, preparing the perfect matcha comes down to three steps: sifting and whisking.
Normally, a bowl of thin matcha, ‘usucha’, is prepared by whisking 1 teaspoon (2 mg) of powder into 70ml ( 2.36fl oz) of hot water at 176F (80C).
Keeping the temperature right isn’t much of a big deal as much as sifting the powder is. Sifting keeps the powder lose, quick to dilute when whisking, and avoid clumping.
There’s a method to whisking too - you don’t just swish the whisk randomly. The perfect bowl of matcha has a rich, fine froth made by rapidly moving the whisk in the letter ‘W’ form until the the froth is formed. It should look similar to the crema on an espresso.
This is the part matcha purists will say is the most important: Zen monks drank matcha as a way to clear the clutter in their mind and find a momentary peace.
Thus, modern day matcha drinkers should, during the preparation and drinking, attempt to put their busy lives on a pause and contemplate. Pause, and just enjoy the flavors, the peace, the calmness. If you only crave the taste, then this fleeting serenity is just a perk of creating the perfect matcha.