Saturday, May 17, 2014

My Cuppa: The way of the whisk!

On my last post, I mentioned that Matcha is not steeped in order to extract its flavours from the leaves. Instead, you are ingesting the whole leaf which, in some ways can be seen as “eating”. Since you are consuming the entire leaf, you are obtaining enormous health benefits.

Some people are intimidated by Matcha because of all the accessories required to make it. Really, it’s not complicated at all and it’s not necessary to go out and purchase all the fancy tools in order to enjoy this tea. If you want to experience the full treat of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, by all means, go out and purchase all the utensils and vessels needed. I'm going to stick with the basics and even suggest some substitutes you can use that you may already have in your kitchen.

A traditional Matcha set includes the following items:

  • A chawan which is a bowl
  • A chasen which is a bamboo whisk
  • A chashaku which is a bamboo spoon


Traditional Matcha set.

If you want to save yourself some cash, any medium sized bowl or a large cappuccino cup will do. Make sure the bowl or cup is deep enough and that it is at least 4 inches in diameter. You want enough room to whisk. Instead of the chashaku, just use normal measuring spoons. Instead of a chasen, you could use a small whisk, a milk frother, or even a good old-fashioned fork. If you really want to purchase anything for just a little authenticity, I would recommend getting the chasen over all other items. You’ll also need a small sieve to sift your Matcha to remove any lumps.

My items.

Two consistencies of Matcha can be made: one is called usucha which is thin, the other is koicha which is thick. I've enjoyed both, but I think it’s up to the drinker to prepare it to their own liking. I'm going to make mine a little thin.

To prepare Matcha, follow these steps:

  • Bring some water to a full boil. Place some into the bowl, swish it around, and discard it. This is just to make the bowl warm. Dry the bowl thoroughly.
  • Using your sieve, sift ½ teaspoon of Matcha into the bowl. If you want thick tea, use 1 ½ teaspoon.
  • Add about 75 ml of water. For thick tea, use about 45 ml. The temperature of the water should be 70 - 75 °C. You don’t want boiling water or you’ll get bitter tea.

Just add water.

  • Using your whisk of choice, I'm using a chasen, begin to whisk the contents of your bowl rapidly in a zigzag pattern. Bubbles will appear and sometimes foam will be produced. Ensure that all the Matcha is dissolved and not sitting at the bottom. That’s it! How easy was that? No need to add anything else.

Whisk in a zigzag motion.

Matcha is an acquired taste and not everyone will like its consistency.  I've found Matcha to have a sweet but earthy flavour. The aroma is vegetal and earthy. However, just like any other tea, many factors will affect the taste of Matcha: the terroir, manufacturer, water temperature, age of the tea, how it was prepared and so on.

Enjoy your Matcha!

I keep my Matcha powder refrigerated in a dark, air-tight container until ready to use.  This will stay fresh for about a month.  Don't keep it for too long.



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