Is your matcha tea frothy and creamy? No? Read on...
One of the most common questions I receive is how to make matcha tea that produces that delightful creamy, frothy layer of crema on the surface. Below is my method for preparing matcha tea using the traditional Japanese bamboo matcha utensils.
While matcha has been prepared this way as part of the traditional tea ceremony for centuries, please note I don't claim to be an expert on the intricacies of Japanese tea ceremonies, and am still learning more about it every day. There are those in the tea profession that have devoted most of their lives to the study of Japanese tea, the traditions behind it and the tea ceremony itself, I have the utmost respect for anyone who has has done that.
There are a few steps, and I will show you what works for me. I use 1 tsp of matcha powder with about 12 oz. of water. This is called a thin (薄茶 usucha) preparation. For a thicker preparation (called 濃茶 koicha), simply use more matcha powder, or less water to suit your tastes.
Here's a video for those that never like to read (I won't judge you)
Small bowl or mug (there are traditional Japanese matcha tea bowls for this, however any small bowl will do)
Bamboo matcha whisk called a 'chasen'. These come in all different styles with different numbers of prongs. Typically the more prongs, the finer the prongs, which will result in an airier, lighter, fluffier, more frothy crema on your matcha tea. An 80-100 pronged whisk works fine.
Bamboo Matcha scoop called a 'chasaku' (a spoon will do too)
A small tea sifter or strainer
12 oz of hot water @ 170 F degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, boil the water, then pour it into a mug and let it cool for about 5 minutes. (Never pour boiling water straight onto your matcha, it burns the delicate plant structure, and results in loss of the nutrients in the tea)
Sift the matcha tea using the strainer and matcha scoop (chasaku) into your bowl. You should move the scoop over the powder gently back and forth, pushing it through slowly. Matcha is very delicate and each step you should approach with a bit of care and mindfulness.
Pour your hot water (not boiling remember!) onto the matcha powder. Again pour it slowly and gently, otherwise the matcha powder can fly everywhere
Whisk the matcha and water together steadily in the form of a W or M pattern. To produce froth you will need to do this rather quickly, in order to get air through the tea and produce the bubbles. Note the matcha powder never truly 'dissolves' into the water, it's more like being suspended in the water. If you let your tea sit for too long after whisking you will notice the formation of matcha powder at the bottom of the cup.
Once you have a layer of froth on top, gently drag your whisk back and forth and pop any larger bubbles. There shouldn't be any large bubbles, just a consistent, smooth, creamy layer of froth left on top. I've heard from a Japanese person (so it must be true) that larger bubbles on top of your matcha tea are considered improper.
(Here's a quick video showing you how fast you need to whisk the tea to get froth)
That's it! Good luck making your matcha tea at home. If you don't have the bamboo whisk, a great alternative is a milk frother.
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