Matcha. If you managed not to try it yet you might be too afraid to ask what the fuss is actually all about by now. Prepare for an ode to my favorite drink.
It’s a mighty green powder. It’s been around in my kitchen for a while now, with changing manufacturers though. Since I’ve discovered the most tasty matcha recently, I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. Warning: this one might get you hooked!
I am a tea fan, can’t deny that, but I’ve always preferred black tea over green tea – until matcha came along. I can’t even remember anymore when I had my first one, but I’m pretty sure it came with sweetened soy milk. These days are over.
What is Matcha?
Matcha means simply “ground tea” in Japanese. It’s a a finely ground powder of whole tencha tea leaves, which are being kept under the shade before harvesting, so they can produce more chlorophylle. This gives matcha its unique deep green colour. After harvesting, the stems are being removed and only the soft parts of the leafs are being dried and then stoneground. Originally this special tea was used in Japanese Zen tea ceremonies because it also helped the monks to focus during countless hours of meditation. Matcha is generally more expensive than standard tea, due to its complex production. However there are major differences in quality.
How to pick a good one
As a rule of thumb the more dull yellow-brownish the powder, the lesser the quality, the more deep green/blueish the better the quality. Also take note that authentic matcha is always produced in Japan. A good matcha is furthermore super fine ground, meaning if you put some powder on a paper and draw a line with it, it should be one smooth consistent colour strip without any big grainy particles. Last but definitely not least the taste is what it all comes down to. When you’re tasting a high grade matcha, you will never feel that it is bitter. Quite the contrary, a fine matcha has a sweet, umami taste to it.
Bonus: It’s really healthy
Matcha is full of antioxidants, vitamins, mineral nutrients and amino acids. I won’t go into detail here because I am not a nutritional or chemical expert but what I’ve learned in the last few years is that a certain substance called l-theanine makes all the difference. It is the reason why matcha has a longer-lasting wake-up effect than coffee, you experience a more calm alert without the sooner or later following fatigue crash you might be familiar with from coffee. So it’s a win-win really.
How to prepare it
When you start looking for matcha you will unavoidably stumble upon a wooden thing that sometimes is sold along with it and you might ask yourself: “What is it? And do I really need it?” It’s a bamboo brush, or more traditionally called chasen, which is used to prepare and maybe froth up your matcha.
- put 1 gram of matcha in a bowl or cup (very often a spoon with this exact measurement is sold along)
- pour just a little water on top of it (around 60-70 degree celsius) and make a smooth paste with your chasen
- add more water to the smooth paste but don’t get too excited, make sure you only fill your bowl up around halfway
- start whisking the chasen in an “M”-shape, back and forth until some nice froth forms
Over time you can add more powder if you like the taste, the proportions are really up to you. If you wish you can of course add whatever milk and/or sweetener you prefer to your matcha, but I wouldn’t want to trade the pure taste of it anymore for just another sweet beverage. There are also a ton of matcha recipes out there, mostly sweets in all kinds of variations but also savory dishes can be prepared with matcha.
If you wish you can also enjoy your matcha frothless. There is a nice and short video on this here. If your whisking doesn’t work out right away, fear not – I felt like a failure when I first tried to whisk up my matcha, my cup was way to full, there was no froth, just green stains on my shirt and on my walls. That’s why I prepared my matcha in a very non-buddhist way in my Vitamix, shame on me, I know. But then I treated myself to a beautiful starter kit from Matchæologist and there was a full-hand chasen included, which I didn’t give much credit first, but it made all the difference. Generally you will get a very short bamboo brush, just like I did when I started to do the matcha thing. I am a tall girl with long limbs and big hands, and being able to actually hold the brush in my hands and not just between two fingers made it easier and more fun to prepare my daily matcha.
Since February I stick to Matchæologist matchas because they have the finest taste I ever tried so far. On their website they explain: “Each batch of our matcha, which is ground from hand-picked virgin tea buds, undergoes a proprietary ‘artisan roasting’ process to express the flavour to its fullest potential.” Whatever that artisan roasting is, it is oh so tasty. On top of that their customer service is very fast and very helpful. My personal favorite is the Matsu followed by the Misaki. The Meiko is very good too, but I prefer the undertones of the first two mentioned. When I tasted the Matsu for the first time I was blown away: “Oh THIS is what it should taste like!”- no bitterness, just a sweet green umami taste that caressed my tongue, followed by a lovely roasted aroma. No fear of making a lemon-face, if you know what I mean. In addition to that their style really speaks to my inner aesthete, their supplies are very beautifully designed. I mean just look at that hand-blown glass bowl and that lovely glass spoon:
So if you haven’t tried a real good matcha yet (and no, a Starbucks Matcha Latte doesn’t count cause there is a ton of sugar in both their powder and the milk), go ahead and treat yourself.
This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to share the best matcha I’ve found so far.
I wish you an alert and focussed start into your day! Thanks for reading 💚