Matcha ~ Japanese Powdered Green Tea Tips, How-Tos, and Recipes
Matcha Facts, Matcha How Tos, Matcha Recipes!
I am a lover of all things tea, but nothing delights me more than matcha! Matcha is high quality Japanese green tea that is slowly ground by hand into a fine powder. Matcha is used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but it can also be used in a number of modern recipes!
Where you buy and what type you get matters, so read on and learn about the process that goes into making this amazing tea.
What exactly is matcha?
Matcha is finely-powdered Japanese green tea. The leaves used to create matcha are not just run-of-the-mill green tea that you'd find in a teabag, however. Matcha is made from the same leaves used to make gyokuro, which is the finest quality Japanese green tea. The tea plants are covered with shade to protect them from the sun for a certain amount of time before harvest (usually a few weeks). This causes the tea to become darker and sweeter.
The tea is set out to dry and then very slowly stone-ground into a powder. It is important that the tea is ground very slowly, as too much friction will cause heat and cook the tea.
What's the difference between types of matcha?
To be honest, tea quality and grading systems are pretty vague, but it's fairly easy to tell the difference between a high quality matcha and a low quality matcha, especially when low quality matcha sometimes contains fillers. Pick the matcha that's best for you depending on your purposes.
Note: It is very important to never use sweetened matcha/matcha with additives in baking. It won't turn out even close to what you're expecting! Save sweetened mixes for drinks and smoothies.
High Quality Matcha, Ceremony-Grade Matcha, Premium Matcha
This is the matcha you are likely to find used in tea ceremonies. It is typically sold in very small quantities, and can be pretty pricey. Use this if you like to drink matcha straight, as it will be smoother and less bitter than a low grade.
Buy it at: High quality tea shops
Cooking-Grade Matcha, Culinary-Grade Matcha
This is what you will want to use for most recipes. It is still pure matcha (no sugar, flavoring, or fillers), but may be a lighter green and have a less intense flavor than premium matcha. It is usually sold in envelopes or foil bulk bags.
Buy it at: Asian grocery stores, some high quality tea shops
"Green Tea Latte" Mix
This is what is used to make most coffeehouse "green tea" drinks, smoothies, bubble tea, and "frapps". It is generally low-grade, almost always contains sugar, and sometimes also contains flavorings. You absolutely cannot use this for cooking or baking. It is acceptable for smoothie and lattes, or used as a dessert topping.
Buy it at: Starbucks, American grocery stores
Matcha & Gyokuro Tea Processing
Watch this video to see some of the processes involved in making Japanese green tea.
How to Make Matcha
This video shows the traditional way to prepare matcha. If you're just making it at home, you don't need to be so formal, but the little extra steps do make a difference in taste!
A set of equipment is needed if you want to prepare matcha in the traditional way. These items aren't necessary for everyday matcha enjoyment, but they are certainly fun and relaxing to use!
- Chawan: A chawan is also known as a matcha bowl or tea bowl. These are usually handmade, artisan pieces.
- Chasen: The bamboo whisk used to mix and froth matcha.
- Chashaku: Use this traditional bamboo scoop to measure your matcha.
- Wiping cloth: You will need a wiping cloth to wipe the matcha bowl after warming it with hot water.
- Tea Sifter: Since matcha can clump, it is important to sift it before preparing so you don't end up with chunks in your tea.
- Sweets: Matcha is quite bitter, so it is traditionally drunk after eating a small piece of sugar candy called rakugan or wasanbon.
These are the sweets traditionally eaten before drinking matcha. They are made of a dry, sugary dough and pressed into beautiful molds.
Some of my favorite matcha recipes!
This is a basic recipe for a matcha smoothie. This recipe is delicious as it is, but you can also add any other fruits or additions that you like!
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 -2 tsp matcha
- 1 cup milk (any kind)
- honey or syrup to taste
- Break the frozen banana into small chunks. Place all items in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary. Serve immediately.
- Add a few frozen strawberries.
- Use orange juice in place of milk.
- Add protein powder or healthy oils (I like to use flax oil) to make it even more nutritious.
- 1 tsp matcha
- 1/2 cup hot water (boil
- then let cool for a few minutes)
- 1/2 milk (any kind)
- sugar to taste
- Whisk the matcha with the hot water, and stir in sugar to taste. Gently warm the milk (be careful not to overheat) and froth with a milk frother. Pour the milk into the prepared matcha and gently stir.
- Variations: Do not heat the milk, and pour the finished mixture over ice. Top with foam. Ideally, in this glass.
Aerolatte Milk Frother
A milk frother is a great, inexpensive kitchen gadget to have! You can easily froth milk to make lattes and other fancy coffee and tea drinks at home! You can even froth soy milk, and it works hot or cold. You can also use it for other culinary purposes, such as making creams and sauces. I *love* mine, can't live without it!
Where to Shop
Lupicia Fresh Tea
I get my matcha from Lupicia Fresh Tea. They are a Japan-based tea retailer with store locations in America (San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Honolulu) as well as several other countries (Australia, Korea, and a few others.) You can purchase online from www.lupiciausa.com for US customers.
Lupicia sells a reasonably-priced bulk bag of matcha that is perfect for cooking, baking, and smoothies/lattes, as well as a fine, flavored and sweetened matcha for smoothies, lattes, and other drinks. Get the product simply called "Matcha" for basic recipes. For a quick latte or drink, pick a flavor of Matcha Au Lait, which comes in Plain, Caramel, Strawberry, Sakura, and Soybean Powder flavor.
The other matcha choices are small tins of very high quality matcha that is best for drinking straight (ideal for tea ceremonies.) Lupicia also carries matcha bowls and preparation tools in their teaware section.
Teavana carries one quality grade of matcha which is probably not best for baking, but should be good for drinking. They also carry matcha tools and other accessories.
carries two kinds of matcha: one pure and one "latte mix" which contains sugar. You can also get frothers, bowls, and accessories.
Premium Quality Matcha - Use these for tea ceremony or drinking straight
Culinary Grade Matcha - This matcha is best for cooking and baking
"Green Tea Latte" Mixes - If you like green tea lattes or smoothies, you can use these products
Note: Do not use sweetened/flavored matcha mixes for cooking or baking.
What's your matcha drinking style?
How to you like your matcha?
What's your favorite matcha recipe?