For some time I’ve been having an afternoon pick-me-up in the form of matcha, or powdered Japanese green tea. Although when prepared in the ceremonial manner (I don’t do the ceremony proper) it makes only three sips of tea, I find it energizing, stimulating, and, most of all, tasty. (There are said to be numerous health benefits, as the tea is high in antioxidants, but I don’t consider food or drink as medicine.)
You need a few things to make the stuff. Here are four of the five devices I have: a strainer to get the lumps out of the tea, a chashuku, or bamboo tea scoop, a chasen, or whisk (to froth up and mix the tea and hot water), and the matcha itself. I use ceremonial grade, which is about $20 for one of those little cans, and it lasts about twenty days. My pick-me-up thus costs about a buck a throw. The blue-green ceramic thing is the holder onto which you invert the chasen to dry.
The tea. The brighter green the better. It will have some lumps, but that’s what the strainer is for: you simply strain the tea through the sieve into a matcha bowl, which is the fifth object in the process. Real matcha bowls, which can be works of art, can cost hundreds of dollars, but you can use an ordinary bowl. I do have a matcha bowl, but it cost only about $20 (see below).
I love the chasen, which is carved out of a single piece of bamboo. It has an inner layer of prongs and then an outer layer. It’s used, as I said, to froth up the tea, but you can see that in the video below.
Here’s a dose of matcha: about 75 ml of liquid (I use a measuring beaker in a microwave to heat up the water). It provides exactly three decent sips. A good bowl of matcha is properly frothy. This is an early effort by me; the big air bubbles are considered unsightly and should be popped with the chasen before serving.
And here’s how to make it. I recommend this if you like matcha (it’s not like regular tea since you consume the leaves along with the water, and it has a herbaceous flavor that some don’t like—but I love). Ask questions below if you want, or share your own matcha experience. By the way, matcha of lesser grades are used to make those Starbuck’s matcha lattes, as well as to flavor green tea ice cream and other goodies.
The preparation itself begins around 1:20. The water temperature, below boiling but very hot, is important.