Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Matcha, Part 1

Intro to Matcha

I always feel a little awkward merely re-wording information I gathered from other blogs and sites if I don't have anything new or original to add; however, since the following posts this week will cover my first ventures into the world of matcha, I think it is important to at least cover the basics.

Matcha (抹茶) comes from tencha (展茶), tea that is grown in the shade for three weeks prior to harvest. Tencha is then destemmed and deveined and ground into a fine powder, matcha, which is what is used for cha no yu. It is important to remember that not all powdered green tea is matcha.

There are two types of matcha, usucha and koicha.

Usucha (thin tea) is more astringent and not as sweet as koicha, so less is used, approximately two scoops using a chashoku.

Koicha (thick tea) is a higher quality matcha, sweeter, allowing more to be used, approximately four scoops.

For more detailed information... O-cha, Hibiki, Wikipedia, Tea Nerd.

How to Brew Matcha

For best results you need a minimum of three things, a chawan (tea bowl), chasen (tea whisk), and a chashoku (tea scoop).

For usucha, start with two scoops and 3-4 oz of water at 175 F, then whisk briskly from side to side. You do not want to use a circular motion. The video should adequately demonstrate what I'm talking about.

I am unclear on the brewing instructions for koicha; I've read different things from different sources, so I'll experiment more before posting the instructions later this week.

This concludes Part 1 for today. Part 2 will cover chawans in more detail, and Part 3 will be a review over my first matcha, o-cha's Kiri no Mori and Kiku Mukashi.


Bret said...

You should always let the whisk soak in water before you use it. It will soften the tines and the whisk will last longer. When bamboo is dry, its brittle. There should be no large bubbles floating on top. Only thick, creamy foamy goodness. To get rid of the bubbles, raise the whisk so that it only has contact w/ the surface of the tea. With thin grade Matcha this is harder to do. But just practice and find your own way.

hugin said...

I always feel a little awkward merely re-wording information I gathered from other blogs and sites if I don't have anything new or original to add...

Regardless, I have found your matcha entries to be quite helpful. I have scoured other sources but yours is the most encouraging to me. The pictures are also lovely!

hugin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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It's very interesting learning from all kinds of teas all over the world. My mother used to prepare a mixture with some different herbs and that as the best tea ever!