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Thread: How to make an incredible cup of Matcha...

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    Talking How to make an incredible cup of Matcha...

    Before I go into a pictorial on how to make this intoxicating, frothy brew, let me first start by explaining what Matcha is, why it's so special, and why in my opinion, it is the finest form of tea.

    Matcha is a finely ground powdered Japanese tea. The tea itself however, is much different than a standard green - as it's specially shade grown, picked at a different time, and the quality control is significantly more stringent than any other tea I know of. The best Matcha is the first pick at the beginning or right before the start of the season and only the choicest leaves from the very top of the bush are used. A good matcha should taste almost sweet and a VERY deep, robust flavor. Enjoying a QUALITY matcha (see notes below on what quality matcha is) is a near magical experience. It fills your mouth with such a robust, sweet, decadent flavor - for many it will overwhelm ones taste buds. This isn't something many dirnk daily - instead this is reserved for very special occasions and moments of intense concentration and reflection.

    Quality - most of the stuff you can find easily online or in stores, is pure junk - but all it takes is ONE cup of the good stuff to knock your socks off. If you get some matcha, make sure it 1.) Is stone ground (other methods "burn" the tea and remove flavor) and 2.) Is from Uji. ALMOST everything from Uji will be superb, of course as with all things, it won't always be the case, but 95% of the time, this is true. 3.) Get Koicha - as it's grown from 30+ year old plants, and tends to be much better. You've probably only ever had usucha, which is the more common stuff. (There are 2 basic types, Koicha - essentially thick and usucha - essentially thin). Chiyo Mukashi is a really nice Koicha to start from, which isn't brutally expensive - however a good Usucha will get you started, and will be even less costly. Note: any good matcha should be kept under refrigeration, and any good proprietor will make it VERY clear their matcha(s) are kept under refrigeration until they're shipped. Also, good matcha (in fact all matcha) should have a production date on the bottom of the tin - and it is prime for 6 months after production. If it has a "best by" date, it is suspect, especially if the date is greater than six months from the purchase date, it is likely very old, low quality matcha.

    Health Benefits - matcha has long been considered the healthiest tea as you actually consume the leaves (powder) thus giving you the maximum amount of nutrients. Matcha has more than 137 times (that's not a typo) more EGCG than an equally sized cup of green tea. Suffice to say, it's green tea on steroids and PCP. I won't go into detail RE: what the benefits of tea are (a quick google search will take care of you) but suffice to say, green tea is VERY good for you. Matcha will also give you a wonderful boost of energy, unlike anything else you've experienced (not a caffeine like boost, it's a very calming boost) and will kick your metabolism into gear like none other. If I drink this daily for a week, doing NOTHING different, I lose about 3-5 lbs. It's wacky stuff. YMMV on the weight loss stuff, but everyone should notice a boost in their ability to concentrate, and a stable boost of energy.

    Not only is it exceptionally tasty, it's tremendously fun to prepare the frothy green elixir with the bowl, whisk, etc - so let's get down to business.

    Here's a VERY basic setup I use when traveling - or when I want to enjoy a cup of Matcha at work. While basic, you need nothing more than the items below....





    Matcha bowl (called Chawan), Prep tools (in the bamboo tube) and Matcha (that's some cheap/old stuff in the silver bag that's past expiration which i'm merely using as an example - still tastes good though )






    Bamboo Whisk (called Chasen) and a Matcha Spoon (called Chashaku)...




    Making Matcha

    Step one - assemble your equipment (shown above)

    Step two - select your matcha... (Note: you can tell this is old stuff as it should be a more vibrant, almost florescent green color)



    Step three - Depending on the matcha, place one or two "scoops" of matcha into the dry bowl from the matcha spoon. In this instance, I am using two scoops....











    Closer look at the good stuff.....



    Step four - add an ounce or so of water that is approximately 180 degrees or so. You want it hot, but not so hot as to scald the incredibly fresh tea....





    Step five - now is where it start to get interesting. Use the bamboo whisk and slowly start to whisk/mix the powder with the water at a speed of about 2 rotations per second.....



    After a few seconds, slowly increase your speed - you should start to see a froth begin to form...



    Kick it up a notch, and start to vigorously whisk small circles with the bamboo whisk and you'll begin to see a beautiful, cappuccino like froth begin to form. Depending on the whisk and the type/grade/freshness of matcha - you can generate a shocking amount of froth (in some cases i've gotten over an inch of foam)....





    Step 6 - add water to form your desired strength. Many only like to use a few ounces of water to make a very strong, robust brew - while others like to add 6-10 ounces of water. I added more water than I typically prefer, as it was difficult pouring water while trying to take a picture of the process at the same time





    Step 7 (optional) - some like a froth of thicker bubbles (see above) while others like a very tight, fine froth. With this little travel whisk - the best I can get is a medium thick froth. You don't have to use the whisk a second time, but for those who do - here's what it looks like....





    Step 8 - enjoy a truly unique and special experience, once only enjoyed by royalty.



    Enjoy - and if you have any questions, or would like to add in any tips/tricks/hints, feel free to jump in!
    - Joel
    joel (at) badgerandblade.com

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    Joel, This is yet another awesome post. Something I have never seen the likes of before. Of course I haven't seen much in this newly found tea world.

    What is the taste of this tea and also, does the set you show come as a kit? Where can it be purchased?

    Nice job, thank you!

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    Joel please do describe the flavor profile, I am very intrigued.
    Brian

    Enjoy life, relax, take a deep breath through your nose...exhale through the mouth...take another, now don't you feel better?

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    Great post. I love the whisk in the little bamboo holder, I've never seen anything like that before.

    The only thing I'd add, which I've found incredibly helpful, is sifting the matcha into the bowl. I've heard bad reports about the traditional matcha sifters but the tea strainers from the local supermarket, which aren't much use for tea, are great for breaking up the matcha.

    Ippodo have a nice matcha starter kit. The matcha may not be the best of the best but I reckon it is good enough to decide if you wish to pursue your interest.

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    I love my matcha. I just can't seem to get a froth like that though. It tastes great.
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    Damnit! I need all of that equipment and some decent matcha. Link please!!!
    I sedederserve to lose some man points


    Richie

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    Quote Originally Posted by thirdeye View Post
    Joel, This is yet another awesome post. Something I have never seen the likes of before. Of course I haven't seen much in this newly found tea world.

    What is the taste of this tea and also, does the set you show come as a kit? Where can it be purchased?

    Nice job, thank you!
    1.) The taste - unfortunately, Matcha is a whole genre of tea, so each type/brand/style/quality will taste remarkably different, much like a pu-erh, chinese green, etc. It is however significantly different than any other tea - so I can walk you through the common characteristics which make it so different from other teas out there. Firstly, it is VERY robust. As you can see from the deep, solid green color, it has a very rich, bold taste. Many green teas which have quick/short brewing times while wonderful, to many taste like mere grass, and for some can be boring. Matcha couldn't be more different. It is very malty, creamy flavor - with a pulsing and near milky aftertaste. Matcha has NONE of the sour tannin flavor of other strong teas (refer to the aforementioned creamy/maltiness) so it is very robust, however soft and easy drinking. Matcha tends to be off the charts in amino acids (good thing) which gives it a very interesting, unique and lovely natural sweetness. It has a VERY clean, pure and natural TRUE tea flavor. Essentially, it is the finest/purest form of tasting the tea plant. While other teas use intricate methods of processing, aging etc to change the flavor of the tea - the Japanese take the exact opposite approach with matcha and take painstaking measures to reach the highest possible level of flavor preservation. Simply put - Matcha is the purest form of tea - and tastes how most other teas strive to mimic and fail at doing. It is for this reason, Matcha is my favorite tea - as it is an attempt at the highest level of perfection. I've never made a cup of matcha for someone who hasn't been completely blown away. My wife didn't like tea before I had met her and was a several cup of coffee a day gal. Now, she can't get near coffee - and is a BIG tea fan, all due to the persuasive powers of Matcha

    2.) Yes, the kit I have is a kit. I purchased it quite some years ago online - and can't remember where I had picked it up - however Matcha starter kits are readily available on the internet. Note: 99 out of 100 times the tea that will come with a starter kit will be of exceptionally poor quality - and it'll get you started, but good Matcha is a completely different experience (it's like comparing Natural Ice in a can to hand pulled Boddington's). Be careful, as many of the kits you'll find online are terribly overpriced. The travel whisk/spoon can be had on the cheap here - however this is made in China (mine is Japanese) so it might be of lower quality. Note: the previously linked location has some pretty good matcha as well.

    3.) O-cha.com is a good place to pick up quality, mid-priced matcha tea and some of their accessories are priced pretty well. Be careful where you buy your bowl, as this place, and many others charge a small fortune for 'em. They are a little "special" in that they use a special type of lacquer, and the inside is slightly grainy to help produce froth - but they shouldn't be the silly prices they're asking. You can find all sorts of cool matcha bowls on ebay for $15-30. In fact - if you search ebay for "Matcha whisk" or just "Matcha" you'll find all sorts of starter kits with a bowl, whisk and spoon for around $30.

    Note: there is another "how to" coming tomorrow, or next weekend on how I make my Yerba Mate in a traditional gourd, so you might find yet another weird drink to try out
    - Joel
    joel (at) badgerandblade.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by merkurguy View Post
    I love my matcha. I just can't seem to get a froth like that though. It tastes great.
    You are likely using a very poor quality (or very old) matcha, as well as not using enough matcha. Add 2X the amount you normally do, and that should make a difference. That froth is actually quite light - and I typically get a VERY rich, robust, near cappuccino like froth using my really good teas and whisk. This is just step one of the guides (this, the previous pu-erh guide I had done, and the upcoming Yerba Mate guide are all the "quick and dirty" methods) the next phase will be to bring out all the fancy stuff - do a step by step of the entire "ceremony" as well as some history behind the ceremonies, why they're done, what they mean, etc.
    - Joel
    joel (at) badgerandblade.com

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    I see you mention boddingtons... clearly you need a taste update in the beer department! I rate thats stuff no better than vile water.


    Real ale snob rant over.
    I sedederserve to lose some man points


    Richie

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    Quote Originally Posted by R-James View Post
    I see you mention boddingtons... clearly you need a taste update in the beer department! I rate thats stuff no better than vile water.


    Real ale snob rant over.
    Obviously you've never had Natural Ice It's no Samuel Smiths - but Boddington's is right good for us fellas in the US.
    - Joel
    joel (at) badgerandblade.com

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    I haven't had natural Ice nope, I tend to get my hand pulled beers from the tiny brewpub in my village which I worked out looks packed full with 20 people in when I was there the other night, and still manages to have 12 real ales and 6 or 7 bottled Belgian and German offerings. A good pint and a decent plate of cheese is all we need.

    Which reminds me I need to air my cheese obsession on the forum one of these days!
    I sedederserve to lose some man points


    Richie

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    Quote Originally Posted by joel View Post
    Note: there is another "how to" coming tomorrow, or next weekend on how I make my Yerba Mate in a traditional gourd, so you might find yet another weird drink to try out
    Oh great, here I go again....

    Thanks or the info Joel...Looks like I'll be doing some surf shopping tonight.

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    Freakin' great- something else to spend money on. Thanks a lot, Joel.
    -Scotto


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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotto View Post
    Freakin' great- something else to spend money on. Thanks a lot, Joel.
    Ditto - I'm already scanning e-bay for matcha stuff!
    Chris.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzuki View Post
    Ditto - I'm already scanning e-bay for matcha stuff!
    Hey, wait for me.....

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    Try this place. they have good green teas.http://www.hibiki-an.com/product_inf...roducts_id/378
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    Another great drink that I have is Japanese genmaicha and matcha together. I add maybe half a teaspoon of matcha to what would be a normal cup of genmaicha and get a great cup of tea.
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    I also get my tea from here and highly recommend it. There is nothing like some fresh houjicha or sencha. All organic too so no pesticides.

    http://www.thejapanesegreenteashop.com/Organic+Gyokuro
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    Its nice to see all the activity in the cafe forum. Joel, I really enjoyed reading your post on making matcha. It makes me want to try it even more than befor. I'm woundering if you know a place in the bay area were some matcha can be bought. I think I saw some at Japantown in the shopping center? But the east bay would be more easy for me. Any ideas? Please, anyone, feel free to help. Thanks, Tim
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

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    I just ordered some stuff; fairly inexpensive to get started, but I'll report back when it arrives from Japan. My wallet is praying I hate it, but experience says it is unlikely....
    -Scotto


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