In this post for TChing, (First Experiences with Matcha) , Michael Haavaldsrud touches on a few of the difficulties we all face when dealing with Matcha for the first (or second! Or even third!) time.
Truth be told, it’s not the easiest, most intuitive tea to prepare if you’re new to Matcha…but once you get the hang of it, the art of whisking a good creamy cup couldn’t be simpler. In fact, you could argue that preparing a high-quality Matcha shot is easier than brewing a cup of coffee (if we’re talking proper, freshly ground coffee!).
Tips for the perfect frothy cap
- SIFT your Matcha before whisking it. This is a key step to keeping the Matcha from clumping when you add the water and start to whisk. High-quality Matcha is ground to a particle size as small as the smoke from a cigarette! Sifting makes all the difference.
- You can either sift it directly into your drinking or prep bowl or use a special Matcha “furui” designed specifically for Matcha sifting. This is a can with a sifting screen and a cute wooden paddle (sometimes metal but not recommended) for raking the Matcha through the fine mesh screen.
- Even when you make a serving of “thick” Matcha where you add a few drops of water and create a paste before whisking into a drink, you still need to sift it! (FYI, there are two types of Matcha beverages served in the tea ceremony: “thick”, akin to a soupy pudding, and “thin”, the most common and palatable for Westerners.)
- TEMPERATURE of the water makes a big difference to your frothy cap! Make sure your water is between 158ºF – 176ºF (70ºC – 80ºC). Any cooler and you’ll find it harder to whisk. Any hotter and you’re at risk of scorching the Matcha, which will obliterate the taste, make it bitter, as well as potentially remove some of the healthy goodness from the tea. At the café, we use a long-handled bamboo tea scoop, (called Hishaku) to measure and cool the water.
- HEART is a big part of getting the best out of your Matcha! You just need to have fun! As Matcha becomes more popular, various theories on how best to whisk it are emerging. Some say you need to form an “M” or a “W” as you whisk…or perhaps a “Z”, a “K”, or a “J”?! Or maybe you’re even more of a ninja and you’re writing Shakespeare in Arabic or Cyrillic. Well, there’s no right or wrong. In fact, at the Matcha bar in Chiki Tea most of the staff simply whisk in a straight line (fast!) in order to create that perfect, frothy head, as taught by our local tea ceremony teacher. So relax, have fun, don’t take it too seriously, and enjoy it – replicate and improve on what works best for you.
- Prep bowl
- Whisk (chasen)
- Tea Scoop (chashaku)
- Sieve (Matcha Furui)
Step 1: Heat bowl
Heat the bowl with boiling water. Putting Matcha in a heated bowl helps open up the flavors. Keep the hot water in the bowl for step 2
Step 2: Heat whisk
Use the hot water in your bowl to soften the tines of the whisk to avoid damaging or breaking the tines. Turn the whisk over several times to soak every tine.
Step 3: Dry bowl
Pour out the water and thoroughly dry the bowl. This is important (!) in order to avoid your Matcha sticking to the bottom.
Step 4: Sift Matcha into bowl
Sift 2-3g of Matcha into your bowl depending on taste preference. One heaping scoop is about one gram. Some Western Matcha brands suggest as little as 1 gram but that’s much too weak for us, and our customers.
Step 5: Pour water gently onto Matcha
Use about 100ml water for 2-3g Matcha. Water temperature should be 158ºF – 176ºF (70ºC – 80ºC). Try to avoid splashing as you pour.
Step 6: Get whisking!
Place the softened whisk into the Matcha and slowly move backwards and forwards. Speed up your motion. Try to avoid hitting the sides of the bowl too hard although inevitably you will touch the sides. Completely avoid hitting the bottom of the bowl. Keep whisking until a light green foam appears. Gently pull up the whisk and smooth out any large bubbles on the surface by lightly running the tip of the whisk through the foam. (It might be a good idea to check the video below for this bit!)
Step 7: Pour Matcha into a drinking cup
… or if using a “chawan”, drink straight from the bowl, traditional style!
Step 8: Clean whisk and store Matcha
Clean your whisk by whisking it in pure hot water (never use soap!). Store your Matcha in an airtight can and place it in the fridge. Consume it within at least 2 – 3 weeks after opening.
Step 9: Sit back and enjoy!