The Matcha Guide: Preparing Matcha Tea for Maximum Benefit
Early mornings and breaks are best spent with a refreshing drink to soothe your mind. One way to amp it up is by making yourself a cup of Matcha tea. The well-loved Japanese Green tea has been slowly reaching local coffee and tea shops and is now a trend for tea lovers across the globe. Drinking Matcha is one of the best health practices due to its abundance of health benefits.
Though you have the option of ordering it at your local cafe, nothing beats brewing a fresh cup in the comfort of your home. Here’s a guide to having the perfect matcha experience!
Though its popularity grew in Japan, Matcha began in China from the 7th to 10th century A.D during the Tang Dynasty, where the Sencha plant’s tea leaves were steamed and formed into bricks for easy transport.
The bricks were roasted and crushed to form powdered tea and prepped with water and salt for drinking. It was a practice for the Zen Buddhists who grew the Sencha plants and drank the tea as they understood the many benefits of Matcha.
Matcha tea was discovered during the Song Dynasty around the 10th to 13th century by a respected Japanese Buddhist Monk named Eisai, who was staying in China.
He learned the Zen Buddhists’ sacred rituals and methods of preparing green powdered tea and brought them along with the tea seeds to Kyoto, Japan. It was then named “Matcha” from the words “Ma” meaning ground or rubbed, and “Cha” meaning tea. Together, Matcha is “grounded tea.”
Zen Buddhists called Matcha tea the “Ceremonial Tea of the Hight Temple Priests” that provided inner peace. Their afternoon tea sessions allowed them to reach a level of focus and clarity like never before.
Today, the Sencha plant is known as Tencha, and the practices have grown less popular in China but are booming in Japan.
Fun Fact: Eisai dubbed Matcha tea as the “elixir of the immortals”!
Benefits of Matcha
Aside from being a delicious drink, Matcha is also known as one of the healthiest beverages ever for being an antioxidant powerhouse and provider of plenty of health benefits:
Matcha is rich in its destressing and detoxification properties that kill harmful molecules and reduce oxidative stress that can cause tissue and cell damage. It provides EGCg; a plant-based compound found in green tea leaves that can prevent conditions such as diabetes, and chronic illnesses by preventing cell damage, and different forms of cancer.
Matcha is also an ideal drink for dietary purposes and to prevent heart diseases. Studies discovered that it decreases bad LDL- Cholesterols, and triglycerides, and reduces hypertension by lowering blood pressure.
Matcha contains magnesium, vitamin c, zinc, selenium, and chromium that helps boosts the immune system. It also prevents inflammation, hence can soothe sensitive and irritated skin.
Improves brain function
It also promotes concentration and relaxation, perfect for increasing focus. Matcha contains more caffeine than other green tea but less than coffee to give you just the right buzz without the side effects such as palpitation and jitteriness. Researchers discovered that It improves alertness and enhances memory. It also contains l-theanine, an amino acid that reduces stress and anxiety.
However, as it still contains caffeine, it is advised to drink a healthy amount to avoid side effects.
Preparing Matcha tea is a unique experience compared to other kinds of tea. You will need the following tools to achieve its rich taste:
1. Chawan Bowls
These serve as the mixing bowls for tea. Chawan bowls come in different shapes and sizes depending on whether you’re making thin or thick tea.
How to clean and store: Rinse thoroughly and store in an open-air space to dry. Leave for a while even after the surface feels dry, ceramic tools like Chawan bowls may have moisture inside.
Chasens have 80 tines or spider legs to make it easier to whisk the Matcha tea into a foamy form.
How to clean and store: Gently wash without detergent and place it upright in an open-air space to dry.
Chasakus is a traditional Japanese utensil for measuring powdered Matcha tea. You can consider it the main spoon used in brewing it. Some are from different types of wood and ivory.
How to clean and store: Never wet when cleaning. Gently wipe it with tissue or a soft dry cloth.
For thin Matcha (Usucha)
- 1 tsp matcha green tea powder (1 ½ full tea scoops when using a chashaku)
- 4 Tbsp boiling water (4 Tbsp + 2 tsp to be precise)
For thick Matcha (Koicha)
- 2 tsp matcha green tea powder (3 full tea scoops when using a chashaku)
- 2 Tbsp boiling water (2 Tbsp + 2 tsp to be precise)
What’s the difference?
Their distinction means the amount of water added to the consistency. Matcha tea becomes lighter and “thinner” when adding more water. On the other hand, Koicha implies adding less water for a “thicker” consistency.
Now that your tools and ingredients are measured and ready, you are set to brew your cup of Matcha bliss!
- For Usucha, prepare one fine mesh strainer over a tea bowl and pour one tablespoon of Matcha into it. For Koicha, use 2 scoops for this process.
- Gently shake the mesh strainer, and sift the Matcha into your dry empty bowl. This is to ensure there are no clumps in your tea.
- Prepare a teacup, then pour boiling water into it. Let it cool down for about one minute.
- Carefully add a minimal amount of the heated water into your bowl of Matcha.
- Hold the whisk in one hand and the bowl in the other, and carefully mix the Matcha with the hot water until it reaches a rich green consistency.
- Gently pour hot water into the bowl depending on the type of Matcha you’re making. (70 ml for Usucha and 40 ml for Koicha)
For Usucha Tea (Thin Matcha)
- Whisk the Matcha and hot water in a back-and-forth motion using your wrist. When the tea begins to form tiny bubbles, start whisking the surface of the tea and continue until the Matcha tea has a thick froth and bubbles on the surface.
- At the end, carefully draw a circle around the tea and lift your whisk in the center. This will create a slightly elevated foam at the center.
For Koicha Tea (Thick Matcha)
- Use a slow kneading motion for whisking the Matcha. Slowly whisk it from side to side and a gentle 360-degree motion to make a thick and smooth consistency without froth.
Find out more about this recipe from Just One Cookbook
Here are some handy tips and information when spicing up your matcha tea!
- Try brewing matcha tea latte.
- Matcha powder already contains all the nutrients and catechins of the plant rather than melting the leaves into hot water.
- You can add additional ingredients such as honey, sugar, milk, mint, etc.
- Know your Matcha Tea Grades. There are different qualities and categories of Matcha that you should consider before buying it at your local grocery store. According to Cleveland Clinic, here are the different grades:
- Cooking/Culinary Grade – This grade is the least expensive type of Matcha that is easily purchased. It is slightly more bitter and brown in color as the production of leaves comes from the lower end of the tea plant.
- Premium Grade – This kind is Matcha powder made from the top leaves of the tea plant. This quality is ideal for everyday drinking and cooking.
- Ceremonial Grade – This quality of Matcha comes from the tea plants ground finely into powder using granite stone mills. was served as the ceremonial tea for the high priest Buddhists in Japan
When taking a step back to reflect and relax, Matcha tea is the drink to keep you grounded. The preparation is just as soothing as drinking it, all while providing maximum benefits for your mind and body. Whether a slow rainy day or a busy Monday, you can never go wrong with Matcha.
Dr Alice Williams
I am a physician who cares about healthy living. I strive to be as healthy as I can be so that I can thrive in my own life. By sharing what I know I want to help others to live a healthy life. I run the blog at dralicewilliams.com