What is matcha?
Matcha is a form of (shaded) green tea that is becoming a lifestyle for an increasing number of people by the day. It is made by grinding the soft tissue of the Camellia Sinensis plant into a fine powder. Although matcha originated from China, it was in Japan that the shading technique took form.
How to assess and preserve the quality of your matcha?
Not all matcha is created equal and quality makes all the difference. Technically, the word 'matcha' literally translates to 'powdered tea', and the range of qualities you can find in the market is a vast one.
Here are a few factors to consider when determining the quality of matcha:
- Color: High-quality matcha should have a vibrant green color. Avoid matcha that appears dull or yellowish.
- Texture: The texture of matcha should be fine and smooth, not grainy.
- Scent: Good matcha has a fresh, grassy, umami and sometimes even sweet and creamy aroma.
- Origin: Although matcha originates from China and is some of it is being produced in China again due to the large global demand, you only really want to be buying and drinking matcha Made in Japan now because the Japanese have mastered the technique and produce the best matcha in the market.
How do you prepare matcha for drinking?
There are two ways to traditional ways to prepare matcha: Koicha and the less viscous Usucha. Either way, it only requires a few essential tools:
- Bamboo whisk (chasen)
- Matcha bowl (chawan)
- Bamboo scoop (chashaku)
- Sifter (recommended for minimizing the possibility of clumps)
- Warm water (a temperature calibrated kettle like the Brewista helps a lot)
Here's a step-by-step guide to preparing matcha:
- Measure the desired amount of matcha powder using the bamboo scoop and sift it into the matcha bowl to remove any clumps.
- Add a small amount of hot water (about 2 ounces) to the matcha bowl.
- Using the bamboo whisk, whisk the matcha in a zigzag motion until it becomes frothy. The level of froth you want to build is entirely up to personal preference and varies from one school of matcha to another but generally, 15-90 seconds should be enough. The Omotosenke school of matcha likes only a crescent of froth, whereas the Urasenke school likes a thick, luscious, velvety froth.
- Add more hot water (about 6 ounces) to the matcha bowl and continue whisking until the mixture is well combined.
- Your matcha is now ready to be enjoyed!
Matcha can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in various recipes, such as matcha lattes, smoothies, and baked goods. Its unique flavor and health benefits make it a versatile and popular choice among tea enthusiasts.
Next time you're looking for a refreshing and energizing beverage, give matcha a try. With its rich history and unique preparation process, matcha is sure to provide a delightful and invigorating experience.