As an ingredient, matcha is quite a finicky ingredient. Expose it to light and the atmosphere too long, it will oxidize and lose flavor. Use the wrong water temperature for matcha tea, it may become unpleasant and bitter. Try to stir it using only a spoon? You are likely to end up with a clumpy mess. Here are 5 common matcha preparation mistakes and how to avoid them.
How you make matcha greatly affects its taste. It may sound intimidating, but all these issues are actually quite easy to resolve. In our experience, most problems are caused by one of the 5 issues below. If you’re new to matcha, these few tips will help make your matcha taste better.
1. Using the wrong water temperature for matcha tea
Does your matcha taste bitter? You might be using the wrong water temperature . A good quality matcha should taste smooth, along with a well balanced bitter notes which develop into some umami. Most people are accustomed to use boiling water to make tea. But this is precisely what you should avoid for matcha. Using hot water that is above 176F (80C) may cause matcha to become bitter.
The best water temperature for matcha is usually specific to the blend of matcha. However, a good rule of thumb is to use 176F (80C) water. For example, we would say that 140F (60C) water is the best temperature to enjoy our Fragrant Yame Blend, but it also tastes good using 176F (80C) water. Trust us, the extra effort is worth it. If you need a step by step guide to preparing the perfect cup of usucha, we have a detailed guide here.
The best way to get water at precise temperatures is to get a variable temperature water kettle. But if you don’t have one, just bring water to a boil and let it cool at room temperature for 5 minutes. In Japan, there are special vessels called Yuzamashi. These are open top bowls with spouts and handles. The large exposed top lets boiling water cool quickly so the water in these vessels can be used for making matcha tea. You can add boiling water to a bowl and let it rest for several minutes to achieve a similar effect
On the other hand, there is no lower limit for water temperature when preparing matcha. If you want to make cold brew matcha, go ahead and mix the matcha powder in cold water. What if you’re making a matcha latte? ? Honestly, we find no difference. However, you may want to use hotter water if you’re trying to make a hot matcha latte and room temperature / cold water if you’re making an iced matcha latte.
2. Using too much or too little matcha
1 teaspoon or 2 grams of matcha is actually a lot of matcha. If you mix this into less than 6 oz of water, it will taste quite strong. So how much matcha powder to use exactly? If you are a matcha beginner, we recommend you drink matcha in progressive steps as you grow to appreciate the flavors. If you’re preparing traditional style usucha or koicha, we recommend that you stick to the suggested matcha powder to water ratio in the recipes and you will not go wrong.
Matcha is made of the whole leaf. Therefore, a little matcha goes a long way. 1 teaspoon or 2 grams of matcha is actually a lot of matcha. If you mix this into less than 6 oz of water, it will taste quite strong. So how much matcha powder to use exactly? If you are a matcha beginner, we recommend you drink matcha in progressive steps as you grow to appreciate the flavors. Stick to the suggested ratios in the recipes and you should not go wrong.
If you find the Japanese usucha (thin tea) still a little thick for you, you can give our version of matcha tea recipe a shot. It’s a milder version of matcha tea designed to make matcha more enjoyable for people who have never experienced Japanese matcha tea. Compared to usucha, it’s much thinner and tastes really refreshing – especially if enjoyed iced.
You can always start with more diluted matcha-based beverages, or even add sugar and milk if you think that helps. Start mild, and gain an understanding of the complex flavors at work. If you enjoy them, explore thicker matcha teas and experiment as you go along.
3. Using the wrong kind of matcha
Are you using the right kind of matcha for your intended purpose? It’s much easier to choose the right kind of matcha once you know what you intend to use it for. If you’re consuming matcha as tea, you should pick something labelled as “ceremonial grade matcha”. Anything advertised as “culinary grade” is better suited for ingredient use in baked goods and smoothies. For lattes, we personally recommend using less expensive “ceremonial grade matcha”. It is usually much less bitter than “culinary grade matcha”, and that means you much less sweetener when making your lattes.
We also recommend sticking to matcha made in Japan.But you should also pay attto where in Japan it was produced, when it was harvested and what cultivar it was made from. For our matcha products, we recommend that you use our “culinary” grades when making a matcha based dessert where there are more than 4 ingredients. For everything else, you should use one of our “ceremonial grade” matcha. If in doubt, simply contact us over email or any of our social media channels. We are more than happy to provide guidance on which blend is most appropriate for your needs.
Matcha is generally more expensive than regular teas due to the extra production costs in shading the tea before harvest. Naturally, these costs are normally reflected in the final retail price.
If you like lattes, most reputable companies will sell entry-level ceremonial grades appropriate for lattes at about $18 to $25 an ounce. A good daily matcha will be slightly more expensive at the $20 to $27 dollar range for an ounce. The best matcha will range from $40 to $60 an ounce.
Please note that these estimates only apply to the United States. Because matcha is usually transported in small batches, transport and storage costs tend to be high and it may be more expensive depending on where you are.
4. Mixing matcha the wrong way
Matcha is a suspension, that means it cannot “dissolve” in water. It can only be mixed evenly. We believe that using a bamboo whisk is the best way to mix water and matcha. The traditional bamboo whisk has been used in tea ceremonies for centuries as it greatly helps in creating good froth for usucha.
If you do not own a bamboo whisk or find it inconvenient to use, there are still other workarounds to easily mix matcha and water. Our favorite matcha whisk alternative is to use an electric frother or the “bottle shake” method is perfect for those who are always on the go.
5. Storing matcha the wrong way
After opening a can of matcha, it’s recommended that you store your matcha in the fridge. This keeps the matcha fresh for up to 6 months. We try to finish matcha within 2 months after opening a can. If you are like us and have many open cans of matcha in your fridge at any one time, here’s a handy tip. Write down the date you first opened the bag of matcha.
Need more detailed guidance? Talk to us!
Understanding and addressing the 5 points above will solve 99% of any issues you encounter in making tasty matcha. But if you need more matcha guidance, please email us! We respond to every email.