Matcha makes the world go round - How to make Usucha

 

Usucha (or 'thin tea'), known for its vibrant green colour and creamy texture, is the most common way to drink matcha (we'll talk more about Koicha, 'thick tea' later). While it may look sophisticated, its actually very easy to make!

Step 1: Gather Your Equipment

You don't need a full set of tea ceremony utensils to make a good bowl of matcha, but there are some basic necessities.

We recommend starting with:

  • A bowl (preferably a chawan/tea bowl, but a cereal bowl will do)
  • A scoop (preferably a chashaku/bamboo scoop, but a teaspoon will do)
  • A small metal sieve or strainer
  • A chasen/bamboo whisk (a milk frother can work, but we highly suggest getting a chasen)
  • Hot water
  • And of course, matcha 

As you'll be drinking the matcha directly, avoid anything labelled 'culinary'. Good matcha can get very expensive, so don't be afraid to splurge a little, as it will definitely be worth it, making for a sweeter, less bitter, more complex, and foamier bowl of tea.

Here's a list of some of our favourite matcha vendors, roughly ordered from budget to luxury:

  • Ocha&Co
  • Matcha Love (Ito-en)
  • Den's
  • Naoki
  • Ippodo
  • Marukyu Koyamaen
  • Kettl

Freshly sifted matcha

Step 2: Preparing the Tea

  1. Heat your water. Ideally, somewhere around 80°C (176°F). If you don't have a thermometer or variable temperature kettle, then you can pour boiling water into another vessel first, which will cool it down to roughly the right temperature.
  2. Pour some hot water into the bowl and let the chasen's prongs soak in the water. This serves the dual function of warming up the bowl and softening the bamboo of the whisk, making it more flexible and durable when whisking. You don't need to let it soak for very long, 30 seconds will do. 
  3. Empty the bowl and wipe it dry. Make sure you dry it completely as any remaining drops of water will create clumps in the matcha later, and no one wants clumpy matcha.
  4. Sift the matcha into the bowl. For usucha, we recommend using 2g of matcha powder (one and a half to two heaping bamboo scoops or roughly half a teaspoon). Use the scoop or spoon to help push the matcha through the sifter. Sifting is a very important step as it helps prevent clumping, producing a smoother foam.
  5. Add the hot water. Use between 50-100ml of water (1.7-3.4oz), depending on your taste; more water means a weaker tea, which can be better for beginners. However, using more water makes it harder to produce a good foam, so we recommend starting with around 70ml (2.4oz) and adjusting from there.
  6. Whisk Away! Arguably both the most fun and most difficult part of making matcha is the whisking. At first the technique can be difficult to master, but with a little practice, you'll be whisking velvety bowls of matcha in no time. 
  • First, knead the powder into the water, making sure there are no dry spots or clumps. 
  • Then, start whisking in a fast back and forth motion using your wrist, keeping the whisk low in the bowl, but not scraping along the bottom. 
  • After vigorously whisking like this for 20-30 seconds, you should see the beginnings of a nice foam, after which you can slow down your speed and bring the whisk towards the surface of the tea, which allows you to break down the larger bubbles into microfoam. 

Step 3: Enjoy!

Enjoy your usucha!

 

Bonus Step: Clean up.

  • After you've finished your creamy bowl of matcha, fill the bowl up with hot or warm water and whisk it as if you were making another bowl of tea. This is the easiest way of cleaning the delicate bamboo whisk. 
  • If there is any matcha still stuck on the tines, gently use a cloth or your fingers to remove it, but avoid using any soap as it will eventually wear out the bamboo, causing it to become brittle over time. 
  • After your whisk is clean, let it air dry completely before storing it, to prevent any mold growth. 

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