Matcha tea originated in China but very quickly spread to Japan and became part of rituals in Zen monasteries. Matcha was – and still is – seen as an essential part of chado, the Japanese tea ceremony. Recently, matcha has become popular around the world with the introduction of matcha lattes and matcha-flavoured desserts and treats, giving everyone the chance to try this magnificent Asian flavour.
So what exactly is it?
Matcha is made from a shade-grown green tea called Gyokuro which is steamed before the leaves are separated from each stem and are then dried. Once dried, the leaves (known as tencha) are ground into a powder and it’s this powder that is the basis of matcha tea.
Types of matcha
- Ceremonial-grade matcha: high-quality matcha, direct from Japan, this is the grade that is used in Japanese tea ceremonies. This is typically the highest quality of matcha and can be identified by its bright green colour.
- Culinary-grade matcha: lower quality matcha produced outside Japan. It has a dull green colour and is used commercially for matcha-flavoured drinks and treats.
Traditional matcha tools
- Chasen: this is the bamboo tea whisk; it has thin tines that allow the matcha to froth when whisked with hot water.
- Chawam: the tea bowl; traditionally, you would make and serve the matcha in a chawam.
- Chashaku: this is the tea spoon (but not a teaspoon); it looks like a wooden stick with a curved tip. The curve measures half a gram of matcha, and you would normally need three to four scoops for one serving of matcha.
- Furui: this is the sifter needed to remove clumps and ensure a smooth consistency for your matcha.
How to prepare matcha tea
- Preheat the tea bowl with boiling water.
- Using the chashaku, scoop 2g (about four scoops) of matcha into the chawam, and add 80ml of hot water.
- Using the chasen, stir a few times to remove any clumps, and now whisk from left to right to form frothy bubbles. This will create the best possible flavour and a creamy texture.
- Hold the chasen in the middle of the chawam to allow the matcha to fall off the chasen, then gently remove it.
Drink while still hot and enjoy!