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Matcha, originally from China but popularized in Japan, is an interesting version of tea made by pulverizing green tea leaves into a fine powder. The matcha powder is then whisked into slightly heated water instead of soaked, or infused, like its full leaf cousin.
The visual difference between matcha and “normal” green tea is striking – matcha tea has a bright opaque green color, while green tea infused with hot water is transparent with a color ranging from green and yellow to light brown. This comes not only from the method in which the leaves are treated, but also from preparing it with a whisk.
What if the traditional matcha whisk isn’t readily available? There are some different methods for how to make matcha tea without a whisk, and we will walk you through those.
Traditional Matcha Tools
Before diving into non-traditional ways of brewing a cup of matcha tea, it is a good idea to become familiar with the standard tools used to make it.
Matcha Serving and Mixing Cup – The Chawan
A chawan is a wide-brimmed bowl that the matcha is prepared in and drunk from. They range anywhere from 3”-5” wide at the top and the shape is designed so that a whisk may be efficiently used. The width has to be large enough that the whisk has enough room to move around, but not too big that it is unwieldy to hold.
Matcha Bamboo Whisk – The Chasen
Designed specifically to whisk together matcha powder and water (or other liquid), a high-quality chasen is made by hand by curling narrow strands of bamboo from one solid piece. There is normally a strong center post surrounded by thin strands that are shaped curling inwards.
This specific shape, different from the standard kitchen whisk, optimizes the process of emulsifying and suspending matcha in the liquid base. Matcha powder does not dissolve, so the more agitation produced in the process, the better. All lumps should be removed and no ground tea should stick to the sides of the chawan.
Sizes of a matcha chasen can vary quite a bit. Inexpensive whisks are generally effective but not very strong and may not last a long time, with the whisk strands breaking more quickly than more pricey versions. Higher quality chasens are normally made in Japan, so check the country of origin if that is what you are looking for.
How to Make Matcha Tea Without a Whisk
When testing out a new form of tea, sometimes we don’t want to spend the money on a set of new tools without making sure that we will continue drinking it.
Sometimes we may spend too much because we get excited about it, but that is a discussion for another day.
Whether trying out matcha tea for the first time or you find yourself over at a friend’s house without your ceremonial tea set, situations may arise where a chasen is not available and you want to make some matcha. Here are a few methods that can work when you can’t find a matcha whisk.
General Ratios of Matcha Powder to Water
- 2/3 teaspoon matcha tea powder
- 1/4 cup hot water (around 176°F/80°C), plus extra hot water for heating your bowl or mug
Make Matcha Tea with a Sifter and Spoon
The goal of this preparation method is to get the matcha powder as fine as you can before introducing it to the water. Matcha can easily clump together into larger pieces, and without a traditional whisk it may be difficult to break those clumps up.
This method will reduce the amount of effort it takes to suspend the powder in water, but may not create the “frothy” texture that whisked matcha is known for. While not necessary in traditional brewing, this can actually be another step when using a whisk to make the mixing process go more smoothly.
- Sift the matcha powder through a fine sieve or sifter. This should be done over a plate or bowl that is at least the width of the sifter so the powder does not get all over your countertops.
- Heat chawan or cup. Pour hot water into your preparation vessel, and let it sit for up to one minute. Be sure that the water is not too hot; the heat from the cup can increase the water temperature when brewing. Also be sure that the cup is not cold, or sitting directly on a marble countertop – the shock of pouring hot water into a cold vessel may crack it.
- Discard water. Pour out the water used to heat the chawan.
- Measure matcha into cup. Be sure to measure out the correct amount after sifting – there may be a lot of leftover powder remaining in the sifter.
- Pour water into cup. Use the measured amount of water described on the matcha packaging, or use our recommendations as a general starting point.
- Stir with a teaspoon. Simply stir the mixture together. The extra-fine powder that you have created by sifting should blend easily with water at the correct temperature. You may need to stir multiple times as you are drinking the matcha tea.
Make Matcha Tea by Shaking
Another method of emulsifying matcha tea and water is by shaking the two together. While any receptacle with a tight-fitting lid should work, a cocktail shaker is an excellent tool for the job. The main drawback of using a cocktail shaker for making matcha is that the thin metal walls are excellent at conducting heat – you may want to protect your hands with a towel while shaking.
If a cocktail shaker is not handy, a mason jar should work just about as well for making matcha tea. These jars have lids that screw on and off, making them an excellent alternative to a travel mug.
Speaking of travel mugs, those are another alternative. We don’t generally recommend them as the tops do not always seal all the way (so hold onto them tight when shaking!), and any complicated flip-type lids can be difficult to clean.
Blending Matcha Tea
Any type of kitchen or immersion blender can also be used to make matcha. They may create a little too much foam, so we recommend using the lowest setting. Along the same lines, a milk frother could be used as well.
As a last resort, a standard kitchen whisk can also do the job, but the flexibility of the prongs generally do not create a good matcha.
While the bamboo chasen whisk may be the best tool to make matcha tea, there are other alternatives. Whether sifting, shaking, or blending, there should be a method you can use at home.