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Matcha means “powdered tea” in its native Japanese. For those who normally brew tea from loose leaves or tea bags, there may be questions on how to make matcha tea from powder. Do you use hot water? Cold water? Does the powder dissolve? Do I still need a tea infuser?
We will do our best in this article to break down the process of making matcha tea from start to finish.
How to Make Matcha Tea from Powder
Since matcha is a powder, there are some recommended processes to follow in order to get the best taste and texture from the tea. Tea leaves are normally left to steep and infuse into hot water, but this will not work for matcha tea.
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. This is normally done with a bamboo whisk, called a chasen.
What You Need to Make Matcha Tea
There are a lot of different tools that can be used in a full Japanese tea ceremony, but we will start with the basics for making matcha at home.
- Electric Tea Kettle to achieve and maintain the correct water temperature
- High quality matcha
- Bamboo Whisk
- Matcha Bowls
Basic Steps to Make Matcha Tea from Powder
- 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.
- Place matcha into bowl. Measure out approximately 2/3 teaspoon matcha tea powder and place in 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 bowl.
What you want to end up with is a bright green, frothy, but not bubbly concoction. At this point you can add sweeteners or milk, but do not add them before whisking.
An optional step is to sift your matcha through a fine sieve before adding to the bowl. This will remove any clumps and make for a more consistent whisking process.
Differences in a Preparing Japanese Tea Ceremony Matcha
While the basic process of brewing matcha retains the same concepts, the Japanese tea ceremony adds additional steps focused around purification, buddhist ideas of the spirit, and sweet treats. A full explanation will be given in another article, but for now this video can explain the nuances:
There are a few different methods of brewing traditional matcha tea in a ceremonial setting. Usucha, or “thin tea,” is very much the same as the basic steps given above. Koicha preparation, on the other hand, uses a different ratio to create a thicker brew. Only the highest grades of matcha should be used when making Koicha tea.
Koicha Tea Preparation
- Use twice as much matcha powder
- Use half as much water
- Whisk the two together to reach a thick consistency similar to paint
- There will not be a rich foam created with this process
- Add additional hot water if desired to thin out the consistency
Other Ways to Make 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 lid
- Kitchen Blender
- Immersion blender
- Milk frother
- Mix with a spoon (only if using a sieve)
How Matcha Tea Powder 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.
Once you purchase a high quality matcha powder, it is important that you prepare it correctly. Making matcha tea from powder is an easy process as long as you have the correct tools and knowledge of the different steps.