How to Make a Perfect Bowl of Matcha

Ready to start making your own matcha at home? To make a perfect bowl of matcha, let's start with the essentials:

Matcha Chawan
Slightly flat bottomed bowl with a wide opening. Mine is a flat bottomed bowl from Mud Australia.

A matcha whisk made from one piece of bamboo. The highest quality ones (they last longer) are made in Japan and cost $20+ while the ones made in China cost around $10. The most popular chasen is the 80-tip (the number of tips on the bamboo) but you can also find the 100-tip and 120-tip.

A bamboo scoop/ladle used instead of a spoon to measure out matcha into your bowl.

Most matcha kits don't include a stainer, but this is vital in making a clump-free bowl of matcha. (This set is a good starter but you do need to get a bowl separately.)

Ceremonial Grade Matcha
There are different grades of matcha (powered green tea leaves) and for those wanting to drink it straight with just hot water, you want the ceremonial grade matcha, which is not bitter and tastes mildly sweet. The color should be a vibrant green. (Kathy YL Chan's matcha shown in these photos is really smooth and balanced.) 

When using matcha in recipes or drinks with milk, go with cooking or culinary grade instead. The subtle flavors in the ceremonial grade will get lost when added to anything other than water.

Ok, now onto making matcha! 

I like to warm the bowl and soften the whisk tips first. Pour hot water into the bowl about halfway and move the whisk around to soak the tips. Pour out the water and dry the bowl.

Place the strainer over the matcha bowl and using the tea ladle, put in one and a half heaping scoops of matcha into the strainer. Sift matcha into the bowl.

The recommended water temperature for matcha is 175 degrees. I like to bring my water to a boil, then transfer it to my kettle, which allows the water to cool a bit. Using boiling water makes the matcha bitter so you want to make sure it's not too hot. Pour about a half cup, or 3–4 ounces of hot water into the bowl.

Time to whisk! The entire movement should come from the wrist. Briskly move the whisk in a zig-zag or a "W" shape. Do not overwhisk! You want to make around 10 W's. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to the whisk so that it's scraping the bottom of the bowl since that will ruin the tips. If all things are aligned perfectly (the sifting, the water temperature, the amount of water, the whisking, and so on) you should have a lovely froth on the surface of the matcha.

Enjoy your matcha straight from the bowl it was prepared in. With ceremonial grade matcha, there shouldn't be a need to add any sugar, honey, or milk. It should be delicious and full of umami on its own.

When cleaning up, I rinse the whisk, no dish detergent, then store it upright. Don't put it back damp in the plastic container it came in since that can cause mold. Wipe the tea scoop with a paper towel -- don't get the scoop wet since that can change the shape of the ladle. Store the matcha in a tightly sealed container. You can leave it out at room temperature or store in the fridge and use within 6–8 weeks.

(The matcha froth in the photo above could be much better, dammit. Still need to keep practicing!)

Working on getting a better matcha froth.

A photo posted by Jee Choe (@ohhowcivilized) on

Follow me on Instagram where you can see how my matcha froth comes along.

Posted on October 1, 2015 .

Lie SangBong at NYFW

Thanks to my friend Nana who runs the Lie SangBong shop in Meatpacking District, I've been lucky to go see their shows at New York Fashion Week. (See previous Lie SangBong posts.) A week ago, I went to see their Spring/Summer 2016 collection followed by an afterparty at their shop in Meatpacking.

Gorgeous pieces with clean white lines opened the show. (Collection will be available in the shop in March of next year.) Watch the entire show above.

A couple of hours later, it's time for the afterparty at the shop! Take a closer look at the tiles where you can make out a kaleidoscope of models and designs from previous shows.

All in the family! On the right is the designer (Lie SangBong) with his daughter Nana, the director of the New York store, and his son Chung Chung who designs the LIE collection.

Guests of the afterparty were treated to specially created cocktails by sponsors Chalait and Beefeater Dry Gin. Michelle at Chalait, quite possibly the most Instagrammed cafe with their gorgeous matcha drinks, created Matcha Mint Fizz and Watermelon G&T. So refreshing and tasty on a hot summer evening.

(Like the previous tea events at Lie SangBong, I helped to organize this pairing of Chalait and Beefeater Dry Gin with Lie SangBong.) 

And that wraps up the Spring/Summer 2016 collection at NYFW! You can see the Fall/Winter collection shown this past February in the shop now. Oh, that camel coat!

Tea Events at Lie SangBong Shop in NYC

I've been working on a little side project with the fashion brand Lie SangBong's NY shop. For the last couple of months, we've been holding tea events where shoppers can get introduced to new tea companies.

We kicked it off in June with a tea tasting by Silver Needle Tea Co. and small sweet bites by Tiny Pinecone. In August, we held another event with an iced oolong tea tasting by Té Company, from when these pictures were taken.

Teas, both hot and cold, were served in wine glasses which visitors to the shop sipped away on while browsing. It was oh, so, ahem, civilized. Ha.

(See Instagram pics from past events: here, here, here, here, here, and here.

It's been fun collaborating with everyone and sipping tea in such a lovely space! If you're ever in Meatpacking District in NYC, make sure to stop in at the shop at 30 Gansevoort Street and don't miss the gallery space in the back.

The pieces in the shot above and below are from the LIE collection, which is the younger line from the brand with a lower price point. (I've been wearing their black and white striped slip-on sneakers all summer.)

This past Sunday was the Lie SangBong NYFW show which I got to attend. I'll post about that on an upcoming post...


Giveaway // Palais des Thés Iced Tea Set

Summer isn't over yet! Enjoy the last few days of warm weather with this iced tea set from Palais des Thés. One lucky winner will win this iced tea glass pitcher (stainless steel filter not shown) and Palais' Gardens box, which has four selections of extra large tea bags that can go straight into the pitcher. Total value of this giveaway is $98.

I've been cold steeping the tea bags with sliced fresh fruit. Sliced plums, lots of ice, and Jardin Fruite tea makes for a very refreshing drink. 

Sign up for Oh, How Civilized Emails!

This giveaway is only open to US residents. Good luck!

NOTE: Winner will be contacted by email and comments/follows will be verified. If winner does not respond within three days of being contacted, another winner be chosen. Good luck!

//Giveaway prize courtesy of Palais des Thés.//

Posted on September 6, 2015 .

Afternoon Tea Review // The Lambs Club

It's been almost two years since my last visit and review of The Lambs Club so it's long due for an update. Georgia and Sara joined me on this afternoon tea excursion.

SETTING: ★★★★☆
We sat in one of the circular banquette seats on the second floor and it was comfortable and roomy. Tables are spaced far apart so it feels intimate. 

SERVICE: ★★★☆☆
Service was a little uneven, but friendly. For example, plates and cups were taken off the table without asking if we were done when there were still bites and sips left. 

The last time I went they steeped the tea in the kitchen and brought it to the table, perfectly brewed without the tea leaves (or tea bag) in the teapot. This time, a red lacquer tea box was brought out filled with Palais des Thés teas in GASP!!! TEA BAGS. No, just no. Especially when you're charging $6 for it. Can you hear my eye roll from where you're sitting? Loose leaf would be much appreciated instead. 

Funny enough, I got Long Jing, a green tea, the last time I went. Since they gave us the teabags, we did ask for refills of hot water.

There are about 10 items on the menu with a mix of savories, scones, and sweets. You pick and choose and one selection is $6 while you can get three for $16. I was hungry so I got six. AGAIN, I made the mistake of getting too many sweets. I should have gotten more savories, which were quite good.

SCONES: ★★★★★
The scones here are a must! They're served warm and they're delicious. You get two scones per order and they're served with clotted cream and jam.

SWEETS: ★★★★☆
In my last review, I recommend getting just two sweets. I should really read my own reviews. They were all tasty though and the portion sizes were good.

OVERALL: ★★★★☆
If you're looking for some small bites without having to commit to a full afternoon tea in midtown, this is a good choice.

LOCATION: The Lambs Club New York | 132 West 44th Street | New York, NY 10036 | 212.997.5262
AFTERNOON TEA HOURS: 2:30PM - 5:00PM, Monday - Friday
COST: $6 - $16 (food) and $6 - $12 (tea) | Menu