Matcha powder is a delicious tea with a long history in Japanese culture and has recently become quite popular worldwide. It’s a type of green tea that is packed with antioxidants and other health benefits, including the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine is known as the relaxing amino acid, and pairing it with caffeine leads to a calm yet relaxed, alert feeling many people have grown to love.
Once you know how to make a great cup of matcha, the process is easy and can actually be quite meditative and enjoyable. However, it can take some practice and trial and error!
The way matcha is grown and processed can make it sensitive to oxidation, which destroys its potent health properties. Because of this, it’s also important to consider how you store and take care of your matcha green tea powder.
Here are the most common mistakes when making matcha so that you can skip straight to the good part- an enjoyable and delicious cup of matcha every single time.
1. Not sifting your matcha powder
Here at matcha.com we’re all in agreement that there’s nothing worse than sitting down with your warm cup of matcha only to find a clump of tea powder.
Unlike most teas, matcha comes in a powdered form. This allows the whole tea leaf to be used, increasing the health benefits. However, because it comes in a powdered form, it tends to clump when combined with water or milk. This is why sifting your matcha beforehand is so key.
This extra step can make the difference between a 'meh' cup of matcha and a fantastic one. All you need to do to avoid clumpy matcha is place the desired amount of matcha tea powder in a mesh sieve and sift using a wooden spoon or matcha tea scoop (Chashaku).
2. Using boiling water
When it comes to making matcha, the temperature of the water you use matters. The ideal temperature for water when making matcha is between 140-170 degrees Fahrenheit. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so if your water starts to boil, you know that it is TOO HOT. Give it a few minutes to cool down, and then you’ll be good to go.
Why does this matter? Matcha should have a rich, umami and slightly sweet taste. Yet one common complaint is that matcha can taste bitter. This may actually be because the water temperature used is too hot. Hot water can burn the green tea powder, leaving you with a bitter and unpleasant taste. Using a temperature-controlled kettle can help prevent this. Alternatively, you can bring water to a boil and then let it sit for about 3-5 minutes until it’s cooled down slightly.
Did you know different types of green tea have different ideal water temperatures? Learn more here.
3. Using low-quality matcha
Unfortunately, not all matcha is created equal. Producing matcha tea powder is a labor-intensive process. Tea leaves are shade-grown the last few weeks before harvest, then the top leaves are hand-picked. Leaves are then pan-fried and hand-ground into a very fine powder. In order to speed up this process, some companies will use a machine to grind the leaves, which can heat them and consequently oxidate the tea, giving you a brown and bitter-tasting matcha.
Matcha is often praised for its many health benefits, but low-quality matcha can have fewer antioxidants and may even contain heavy metals. High-quality matcha is grown in Japan, will come in opaque containers, has a bright green hue (no brown or yellow powders!), and has an earthy, sweet, umami flavor. Quality matters when it comes to a good cup of matcha, so don’t be afraid to treat yourself.
It's also important to pick the right kind of matcha grade for what you're doing. For example, culinary-grade matcha is obviously best suited for smoothies and baked goods and won’t make the best cup of tea. Ceremonial grade and Master Blend are exquisite tasting and precious, so you won’t want to waste them on a baked product.
4. Using too much or too little water
When it comes to making matcha, it’s important to keep your own preferences in mind. Learning what you like may also take some experimenting! There’s no real right or wrong here. However, a common mistake we see people making is either using too much or too little water or too much/too little matcha powder.
Since matcha is made using the whole tea leaf, a little can go a long way. A common recommendation is about 1 teaspoon of matcha powder (2 grams) and 8 oz of water. This will give you a thicker cup of matcha, so feel free to experiment with the ratio that works best for you. Just remember that matcha can be quite potent, and you may not need as much as you think. It’s also ok if you like your matcha a bit different than the person next to you.
5. Storing it improperly
Matcha green tea powder can be a bit finicky and, if stored incorrectly, can lose its health benefits and develop a bitter taste. When it comes to storing, it’s also unlike most teas, so it’s easy to make these mistakes.
Matcha is particularly sensitive to sunlight and can oxidize quickly. Because of this, storing it in an opaque container (such as the one it comes in) or keeping it away from direct light is important.
After you open a tin, it’s also important to use it in a timely manner. Keeping it in your fridge or freezer will keep it fresh for up to six months. Although it’s probably best if used between two and three months. One tip is to write the date you opened it on your matcha container or use a piece of tape with the date on it.
Matcha should also be sealed in an airtight container, if possible, to prevent oxidation. Oxidation can deteriorate the tea’s nutrients and again, leave you with a bitter-tasting powder. Canisters designed to store matcha powder are a great option!
While making matcha may seem intimidating, it truly is can be easy and enjoyable process. With just a few quick tips and some planning, you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious cup of matcha every time. Look after your matcha, and your matcha will look after you.