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Traditional Preparation

These days people drink matcha more and more in everyday situations, however, the traditional preparation developed almost entirely alongside the Japanese tea ceremony. The ceremony itself centers around the ritualistic preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha and the procedures for the ceremony can be quite formal. They vary from tea house to tea house as well as with the time of year, the time of day and the venue, among other considerations.

The preparation of the matcha itself, however, falls into two main forms: thick (koicha) and thin (usucha). It’s worth noting at this point that it’s not advisable to make the koicha preparation using usucha matcha and vice versa so you should be aware of which form of matcha powder you’re using.

There is a wide range of traditional utensils with different styles and motifs available for the preparation of matcha but the the key ones include:

  • Matcha Bowl (Chawan).
  • Bamboo Matcha Whisk (Chasen).
  • Bamboo Matcha Scoop (Chashaku).

For both types of matcha preparations, the utensils should be preheated by filling the bowl about 1/3 with hot water then placing the whisk face down into the bowl to wet the tips of the prongs. Once the bowl has been thoroughly preheated and dried out, a small amount of matcha is placed into the matcha bowl using the bamboo scoop.

The appropriate amount of hot water (75c-85c) is then added to the bowl at which point the mixture is whisked to a uniform consistency using the bamboo whisk. There should be no lumps left in the liquid, and there should be no ground tea remaining on the sides of the bowl.

Thin (Usucha) Tea

This is prepared using approximately half a teaspoon of matcha and approximately 2.5 oz of hot water per serving. Whisk the matcha briskly in a W motion until the matcha has a thick froth with many tiny bubbles on the surface. Usucha creates a lighter and slightly more bitter tea.

Thick (Koicha) Tea

This tea requires significantly more matcha and less water than the usucha. Use approximately one teaspoon of matcha and approximately 1.5 oz of hot water per serving. Unlike usucha, for the preparation of koicha, the idea is to avoid making a frothy consistency by using a gentle blending motion instead of fast whisking motion. A gentle combination of left/right, up/down, and a circular motions are used to make a tea with a thick consistency resembling that of liquid honey. It should be reasonably thick, smooth and without froth. Koicha is normally made with matcha from older tea trees (exceeding thirty years) and thus actually produces a milder and sweeter tea than usucha.