Matcha: What It is, Steps to Make It Properly, & Benefits

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Matcha is a green tea from Japan that’s jam-packed with antioxidants. See detailed steps on how to make this tea properly at home, from a certified Tea Sommelier!

Whisked matcha in a bowl.

What is Matcha?

  • Matcha is a Japanese green tea that has been finely ground into a powder. In Japanese, “matsu” means rubbed and “cha” means tea so the translation is “rubbed, or ground tea.”
  • Matcha is pronounced MAHT-CHA or MA-CHA.
  • Traditionally, matcha is used in Japanese tea ceremonies where it is prepared hot, using a special bamboo whisk. It is whisked in hot water and sipped from a matcha bowl. It’s usually served with something sweet on the side to balance out any bitterness from the tea.
  • There are two traditional ways of preparing matcha — thin (Usucha) and thick (Koicha). Thin matcha is an everyday drink and whisked until you get a froth. Thick matcha is used for ceremonies and special occasions and it’s prepared without any froth.
  • Matcha costs more than other green teas since there’s a lot more steps (de-stemming, de-veining, shading the plant, and grinding the leaves) in creating the final product. Tea farmers will cover the tea plants to prevent direct sunlight for about 20 days before harvest. This shading results in nutrient-heavy and vibrant green colored tea leaves.
  • Matcha has gotten more popular over the years and Starbucks has a few matcha drinks on their menu including a matcha frappuccino and an iced matcha latte.

Love matcha as much as I do? Use it to make a Matcha Milkshake, Iced Matcha Latte, Matcha Lemonade, or a Matcha Frappuccino.

Matcha Benefits

  • Matcha is high in antioxidants like polyphenols, which may protect and prevent the body from damage by lowering health risks.
  • Matcha is made up of a unique combination of l-theanine and caffeine which may makes you calm and reduce stress while enhancing concentration.
  • Unlike tea where you would steep in water then remove the tea leaves, with matcha you’re drinking the actual leaves so it’s a lot more potent in terms of caffeine and nutrients.

Ingredient and Tool Notes

Matcha ingredients and tools.
  • Matcha
    Use a bright green matcha in the $30-$50 range when preparing it with only water. Lower priced matcha can be used for making lattes.
  • Water
    I always recommend using filtered water when making any kind of tea. It’ll make your tea taste better than using tap water.
  • Bowl
    A matcha bowl should be flat bottomed with a wide opening so that there is plenty of room for the whisk to move around.
  • Matcha whisk (chasen)
    A matcha whisk is made from one piece of bamboo. The most popular chasen is the 80-tip (the number of tips on the bamboo) but you’ll also find 100-tip and 120-tip. The more tips there are, the easier it is to whisk to get a better froth, but they’ll cost more.
  • Bamboo scoop (chashaku)
    The scoop is for measuring matcha. It’s up to you how much matcha you want but I go with the recommended 2 grams, or one and a half heaping scoops or one teaspoon.
  • Mesh strainer
    This is key to making a clump-free bowl of matcha.
My Matcha Set Pick

Photo Credit: amazon.com

Basic matcha set with all the essential tools that’s reasonably priced. This is a great starter set.
SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

Steps-by-Step Instructions

Four image collage showing steps to make matcha.
  1. Heat water.
    Green tea is very tricky when it comes to water temperature. Use simmered water, not boiling hot.
  2. Warm up bowl and rinse matcha whisk.
    Pour hot water into the bowl and dip the matcha whisk to soak the tips. Discard the water and dry the bowl.
  3. Scoop and sift matcha into the warmed up bowl.
    Use the scoop to help sift the matcha.
  4. Pour a little hot water into the bowl and whisk.
    This step is a make sure you don’t have clumps and it’s essentially making a matcha paste.
My Electric Kettle Pick

Photo Credit: crateandbarrel.com

I always use an electric kettle with a temperature setting to set the correct water temperature tea since not all tea should be made with boiling water.
SEE PRICE ON CRATE & BARREL
Four image collage showing steps 5-8 of making matcha.
  1. Add more hot water.
  2. Whisk vigorously.
    The whisking movement should come from the wrist. Briskly move the whisk in a zig-zag or a “W” shape. You want to make around 10-15 W’s. The best made matcha are ones that don’t have any big bubbles.
  3. Drink from the bowl.
    Matcha is meant to be sipped using both hands. Place your left hand under the bowl and your right hand rounding the side of the bowl. Traditional matcha in a bowl is meant to be finished in three sips.
  4. Rinse bowl and whisk with hot water.
    Make sure to clean the whisk with only water, never soap or cleaning products.

Tea Sommelier’s Tip: The whisks from Japan are made from bamboo that are treated with care so that the tines are super flexible yet strong. The flexibility makes it easier to create the froth. When starting out, get inexpensive matcha whisks made in China or Korea since you may destroy it quickly from improper whisking like scraping the whisk against the bottom of the bowl.

Expert Tips

  • Matcha quality is easy to tell by just looking at the color. The more vibrant green the matcha, the better the quality, and more expensive.
  • The secret to making a proper bowl of matcha is…practice. You’ll start out with big bubbles in your matcha froth but the more you practice, the smaller your bubbles will get. The size of the bubbles indicate right away how good someone is at making matcha.
  • Ceremonial and cooking grade matcha are labeled for marketing purposes only. These labels don’t exist in Japan. The more expensive matcha is usually ceremonial grade and that’s the one you want when drinking it straight with just hot water.
  • For recipes or matcha lattes, look to spend $20-$30 and for making matcha only with water, get higher quality matcha in the $30-$50 range.
  • When you first use your whisk, make sure to soak it in warm water for about 5 minutes to soften the tips.
  • Don’t store your whisk in the plastic container it came in. You need to let it air dry so either leave it upright or get a matcha whisk holder.
  • Try not to get the handle of the whisk wet, only the bottom below the dark thread. To clean the matcha whisk properly, either whisk it in clean hot water or run it under the faucet, being careful not to get the handle wet. After the rinse, take your thumb, index and middle finger and gather the center tines on the inside and give it a small twist to separate the outer and inner tines.
  • Never get the bamboo scoop wet. It can warp the scoop so that it flattens out the end. Instead of cleaning it with soap and water, all you need to do is wipe off any matcha residue using a dry paper towel or cloth.

Questions You May Have

Why is my matcha brown?

Real matcha is only grown in Japan and it’s reflected in the price. If you see really cheap matcha (under $15), it’s probably from China, where shortcuts in the processing are made and it lack’ll the subtle refined taste and the vibrant green color as it’ll be a very dull green (more brown in color).

Is there caffeine in matcha?

Yes,  it has about half the caffeine that’s in coffee.

What does matcha taste like?

I would describe the taste of matcha as vegetal, slightly bitter, and full-bodied. It’s complex and some even have a somewhat sweet finish. 

How should I store matcha?

Store matcha at room temperature or in the refrigerator. (Bring the matcha to room temperature before using.) Either way, make sure it is kept in an opaque, airtight container away from moisture, heat, and light. This will retain the color and quality as long as possible. It is recommended that after you open the package, matcha should be consumed within 6 months.

Does Starbucks have hot matcha on the menu?

They don’t have any matcha drinks made only with water on the menu. Only sweetened matcha drinks can be ordered since their matcha powder is pre-sweetened.

Matcha powder with a matcha scoop.

Matcha Recipes

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How to Make Matcha

Author: Jee Choe
A Tea Sommelier's guide to making matcha like a pro.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 4 mins
Total Time 4 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 1 teaspoon matcha (or 1 ½ heaping matcha scoops)
  • 1/4 cup water plus more to warm bowl

INSTRUCTIONS
 

  • Heat water.
    Green tea is very tricky when it comes to water temperature. Use simmered water, not boiling hot. If using an electric kettle with a temperature setting, set it to 175°F. Using water that's too hot can make the matcha taste too bitter and using water that's not hot enough can make it harder to whisk.
  • Warm up bowl and rinse matcha whisk.
    Pour hot water into the bowl halfway and swirl the hot water around. Dip the whisk and move it around to soak the tips to soften them. Pour out the water and dry the bowl using a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Scoop and sift matcha into the warmed up bowl.
    Place a mesh strainer over the dry matcha bowl and using the matcha scoop, put matcha into the strainer. Sift matcha, using the scoop to help sift.
  • Pour 2 tablespoons of hot water into the bowl and whisk.
    This step is a make sure you don't have clumps and it's essentially making a matcha paste. Move the whisk around slowly in half circles until all clumps are gone.
  • Add 2 more tablespoons of hot water. Whisk vigorously.
    Hold the handle of the whisk using your thumb and index finger, holding the whisk upright. Use the rest of the fingers to rest to support the whisk. The whisking movement should come from the wrist. Briskly move the whisk in a zig-zag or a “W” shape. You want to make around 10-15 W’s. You can also push any bubbles to the side of the bowl to pop.
  • Drink from the bowl.
    Matcha is meant to be sipped using both hands. Place your left hand under the bowl and your right hand rounding the side of the bowl. Traditional matcha in a bowl is meant to be finished in three sips.
  • Rinse bowl and whisk with hot water.
    Make sure to clean the whisk with only water, never soap or cleaning products. Wipe the matcha scoop with a dry cloth or paper towel. Store the matcha in a tightly sealed container.

NOTES

  • Use filtered water for a better tasting matcha.
  • Matcha quality is easy to tell by just looking at the color. The more vibrant green the matcha, the better the quality, and more expensive.
  • The secret to making a proper bowl of matcha is…practice. You’ll start out with big bubbles in your matcha froth but the more you practice, the smaller your bubbles will get. The size of the bubbles indicate right away how good someone is at making matcha.
  • Ceremonial and cooking grade matcha are labeled for marketing purposes only. These labels don’t exist in Japan. The more expensive matcha is usually ceremonial grade and that’s the one you want when drinking it straight with just hot water.
  • For recipes or matcha lattes, look to spend $20-$30 and for making matcha only with water, get higher quality matcha in the $30-$50 range.
  • When you first use your whisk, make sure to soak it in warm water for about 5 minutes to soften the tips.
  • Don’t store your whisk in the plastic container it came in. You need to let it air dry so either leave it upright or get a matcha whisk holder.
  • Try not to get the handle of the whisk wet, only the bottom below the dark thread. To clean the matcha whisk properly, either whisk it in clean hot water or run it under the faucet, being careful not to get the handle wet. After the rinse, take your thumb, index and middle finger and gather the center tines on the inside and give it a small twist to separate the outer and inner tines.
  • Never get the bamboo scoop wet. It can warp the scoop so that it flattens out the end. Instead of cleaning it with soap and water, all you need to do is wipe off any matcha residue using a dry paper towel or cloth.
  • Store matcha at room temperature or in the refrigerator. (Bring the matcha to room temperature before using.) Either way, make sure it is kept in an opaque, airtight container away from moisture, heat, and light. This will retain the color and quality as long as possible. It is recommended that after you open the package, matcha should be consumed within 6 months.

NUTRITION

Calories: 12 | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 3mg | Vitamin A: 200IU | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg
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