Another one of my absolute favorite green teas is Matcha, which is a green tea powder. Like Gyokuro, the tea plant is shaded for at least 20 days before harvesting. Then, the leaves are harvested. If they are rolled out to dry, like Sencha, you end up with Gyokuro. However, if the leaves are simply laid out flat to dry, they’ll crumble a bit and become Tencha. The Tencha is then ground down into powder.
I’m going to give you two videos now. The first shows the modern, mechanical processing of Tencha leaves. The next (which is below the fold) shows the traditional method of grinding Tencha into Matcha:
As you can imagine, this method takes a long time. So of course, they found a way to mechanize the process:
Finally, once you have Matcha, you make it. There are a few methods to making it. The following video, which is 26 minutes and 22 seconds long, shows the Japanese Chada Matcha Tea Ceremony:
In general, you want your water to be hot but not boiling, like Gyokuro and other Japanese green teas. Usually, the water should be around 158°F–185°F (70°C–85°C). You’ll scoop about 2-4 grams of the powder into a chawan, or bowl, using a chashaku, or bamboo scoop. You’ll then pour about 80mL (2.7 fl oz) of the hot water into the bowl, and whisk the Matcha so that it dissolves into the water with a chasen. Then you can drink it.
At least, that’s the basic way. If you want to get a little more specific, there are actually two ways to make it.
The first is called Usucha, or “thin” Matcha. In this case, you’re using around 1.75 grams of Matcha to 75mL (2.5 fl oz) of water. The second is called Koicha, or “thick” Matcha. For this, you’re using around 3.75 grams of Matcha to 40mL (1.3 fl oz) of hot water.
Most Matchas are usually for Usucha. If you want to make Koicha, be prepared to spend quite a bit more money, as the leaves are harvested from trees that are usually 30 years old or older, producing a sweeter drinker. If you try to make Koicha with less expensive Matcha/Matcha used for Usucha, you’ll find it to be rather unpalatable.
I adore Matcha, both for energy (I like to call it “the espresso of the tea world”) and for the fact that making it calms me down. In fact, the ritual of steeping loose leaf tea calms me down a lot, I think because of the fact that it’s an organized, step-by-step process. And that’s why I enjoy it.
But of course, I’m also a technology addict, and the Tea-Ceré, made by Sharp, is something I very much want… badly. But I won’t be using it for traditional Matcha so much as for grinding other teas (other greens, whites, oolongs, reds, pu-erhs, and even some herbals [maté, rooibos, honeybush, crushed chamomile, etc]) to try this way.
Marcus Ranum says
Like Gyokuro, the tea plant is shaded for at least 20 days before harvesting.
I just had a brain-fart:
I know someone who grows their own weed (no, it’s not me, unfortunately, the stuff does nothing for me) and has all kinds of similar rituals for preparing it for harvest, budding, etc. I find the science of getting the maximum out of a plant to be interesting. Anyhow, I was thinking “tea ceremony” and then “weed growing” and…
… someone needs to invent some formal weed ceremonies.
It’d make a cool book.
Ha! A formal weed ceremony would be amazing… 😀
I love matcha (my wife declares my clumsy efforts at making it undrinkable, so I rarely actually make the tea). For me part of the pleasure is in the seasonal wagashi (traditional sweets) that we eat with the tea -- the contrast between the bitterness of the tea and the taste of the sweets is wonderful. Recently strawberries came into season here, so we had ichigo daifuku . I also really like Yokan with matcha.
The area that I live is famous for 24 hour drinking. Sadly I gave up drinking (alcahol) for my health some years back, so when we go out I usually drink cold tea (Ryokucha I find the most refreshing, and certainly beats drinking the cloying carbonated sodas that spoil the taste of your food… I also like ukon-cha when I can find it, although I believe that is a tumeric drink rather than a proper tea). However I have to be careful when ordering as Izakaya staff often assume that I want Ochahai (which strangely is usually cheaper than the soft drink version anyhow). But even when I did drink I preferred my tea without fortification! My son however seems to like Ochahai, says it is very refreshing, so maybe worth a try if you can get hold of some reasonable shochu.