Matcha tea comes in a fine, bright green powder, very different from the usual loose leaf or tea bags that you would normally expect green tea to be packaged in. This may throw you off a little bit when wondering how to make it, but we can easily show you how to brew matcha tea.
What You Need to Brew Matcha Tea
To brew matcha tea, you will need a few tools that you don’t need when brewing other green teas. Since the powder does not steep or dissolve into water, you will need to agitate it as thoroughly as possible to get the fine powder suspended within the liquid base.
The brewing process of matcha tea focuses around the agitation of matcha powder with hot water. This can be attained in a few different ways, from shaking to using a blender (in iced matcha variations), but the classic method is by using a bamboo whisk called a chasen.
While not necessary, we recommend using a sifter or strainer to remove any clumps from your matcha powder before it is mixed with water. These clumps can often come out during the whisking process, but if they are dealt with beforehand, it will make the brewing process easier.
Here are the tools and ingredients you will need for brewing matcha tea:
- A bowl to mix the matcha in
- Something to measure the tea with
- A strainer for the matcha powder
- Hot water
- Matcha powder
- Something to whisk the blend together
How to Brew Matcha Tea
The basic brewing process for matcha is fairly easy, but not as simple as making something like instant powdered iced tea that dissolves almost instantly into water. You will have to use a little elbow grease to get a good bowl of matcha.
- Heat water to approximately 170F / 77C. Do not go higher than 175F / 80C. This would make the tea bitter.
- Heat matcha bowl. Pour hot water into the bowl and let it sit for around a minute or two.
- Discard water. Remove water from the bowl and dry the bowl completely.
- Sift matcha into a bowl. Measure out approximately 2/3 teaspoon matcha tea powder and, using the strainer, sift the matcha into the bowl.
- Pour hot water into bowl. Pour approximately 1/2 cup of water into the bowl directly over the matcha powder.
- Whisk. Using the chasen, whisk the mixture using a zigzag, or M shaped pattern. Continue until you create a green foam with tiny bubbles, approximately two minutes. If there are still large bubbles, continue whisking.
- Drink directly from the bowl.
This matcha preparation is called “usacha,” meaning thin tea. The ratio of matcha powder to hot water will depend on your personal preferences. Try the amounts listed in the above instructions first, and increase or decrease depending on your taste.
Because you do not have to steep matcha for a long period of time, you can add more powder or water immediately after your first taste, and whisk again.
Alternative Matcha Brewing Methods
The instructions above are squarely in the mid-range of difficulty level for brewing matcha tea. There are easier ways to brew matcha that take less time and fewer tools, but the results may not be as good as when using the proper technique. On the flip side, there are classic ceremonial methods that are more intensive but result in very high-quality tea.
Brewing Without a Whisk
If you do not have a chasen or other whisk, you can mix your matcha by preparing it with a small amount of water first before adding the bulk of the liquid. The texture and mouthfeel of the finished product will not have the same body as whisked matcha, but it will still be thoroughly mixed.
- Heat water
- Place matcha in cup or bowl
- Add a small amount of water to the matcha powder
- Using the back of a spoon, mix water and powder into a paste
- Add more water to the matcha paste and stir to incorporate
This method works because you are creating a base of matcha and liquid that will more easily be able to suspend in the larger amount of water. Use the same ratios as the usacha preparation described above.
Other Tools for Mixing Matcha Tea
A bamboo whisk will be the most effective may to make matcha from powder, but there are some other options if a chasen is not available.
- Kitchen whisk
- Shake in a cocktail shaker or mason jar with a lid
- Kitchen Blender
- Immersion blender
- Milk frother
Koicha Matcha Tea Brewing
If you prefer a thicker tea, you may want to try the koicha preparation, or “thick tea.” The classic result of this manner of brewing matcha results in a thick, syrupy brew. The first taste should bring a huge hit of umami, and there are not any other tea preparation methods that compare to the experience.
Be sure to use high-quality matcha powder for this, as the flavor will be very strong and reflect the pedigree of the matcha.
- Heat water to a temperature below boiling, around 175F / 80C.
- Place about 4 grams of matcha powder into a bowl.
- Pour about 25ml of hot water onto the matcha.
- Using the chasen, mix the water and powder slowly, using more of a massaging or kneading motion.
- When the matcha and water are incorporated, pour in another 25ml of water.
- Mix again with the chasen until a paint-like consistency is reached.
When drinking koicha, it is recommended you pair it with food that goes well with matcha. This is normally wagashi, the word for Japanese confections that can come in different forms. The sweetness will help even out the strong flavor of this thick, strong, almost chewy matcha preparation.
Matcha Tea Tips and Info
The average temperature of water used to make matcha tea is quite a bit lower than the temperature used to steep tea leaves, especially when making something like black tea. Hot water can ruin the flavor of matcha, making it very bitter.
With common powdered drinks we get from the grocery store, whether it is hot chocolate mix or concentrated lemonade, the process is to dissolve the powder into water. Matcha powder does not dissolve.
Instead of a dissolved solution or an infusion, what you are looking to achieve with matcha tea is a suspension of the powder particles within the liquid. In order to do that we have to introduce the mixture of powder and water to heavy agitation.
How Matcha Tea is Produced
Even though it is derived from the same leaves as green tea, matcha powder goes through a special process from cultivation to production. The same camellia sinensis shrubs that are used to make all true teas (black, white, green, and oolong teas) are shaded with fabric at the beginning of the blooming season.
The production of chlorophyll increases during the 2-3 week shading, emphasizing the bright green color and making the tea taste sweeter.
After the leaves are picked, they are heated to halt the oxidation process. Leaves heated with a steaming process will also be dried to remove any moisture. At this point, the tea leaves could be rolled, stored, and packaged as green tea. Instead, the most tender parts of the leaves are ground into the fine, green powder that we call matcha.
Matcha tea powder is separated into three grading groups:
- Ceremonial grade matcha – the highest quality, generally made of young leaves picked from the top of the tea plant. Stems and veins are completely removed before grinding.
- Premium grade matcha – still a very good quality matcha, with leaves taken from the top of the plant as well. The leaves are young, but ceremonial grade are usually the youngest. Stems are normally removed but veins may still be ground.
- Culinary grade matcha – Taken from the bottom of the tea plant. Culinary grade matcha is not meant to be whisked with water for tea, but the stronger flavor works well when using it with different cuisines. Common uses are ice cream, baking, and mixing into smoothies.
The process of brewing matcha tea differs from normal tea brewing methods because of its unique properties. Matcha is unlike most powdered drinks since it does not dissolve, but is actually full tea leaves ground up into an extremely fine powder. This preserves the nutrients and antioxidants in the green tea that makes up matcha.
Luckily, brewing matcha tea from powder is an easy process as long as you have the correct tools and knowledge of the different steps.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.