10 Ways You're Making Matcha Wrong

A barista shares the secrets to a perfect cup of matcha.

Maybe you've given matcha a try. Maybe you're even well into the routine of drinking matcha as your caffeine fix. The finely ground green tea leaves have a unique and vegetal taste on their own, and when prepared with care, matcha might just give coffee a run for its money. If you find your homemade matcha tea or your matcha from a local coffee shop somehow lacking, however, it simply hasn't reached its full potential. This could be an issue of quality, preparation, or the tools used to make it. Here are ten matcha mistakes to avoid, and tips on preparing the best possible cup.

You’re not treating yourself to high-quality matcha

Though green tea originated in China, it later made its way to Japan, where the best quality matcha is now produced. Though various places in Japan grow the green leaves that comprise the drink, the quality of matcha is affected by soil and climate. For this reason, it's mainly made in Southern Japan; the city of Uji is often referred to as the birthplace of matcha. To ensure you're getting the best product, aim to purchase matcha produced in that region of Japan. Otherwise, look for matcha powder that boasts a vibrant green color; its ingredient list should not indicate the presence of any additional flavors or sweeteners.

Advertisement

You’re using too much matcha

One convenient thing about matcha is that you can easily control for how much caffeine you'd like to consume. But adjusting the amount of matcha powder you use will also affect overall flavor. Generally, use somewhere between one half teaspoon and one teaspoon of powder per one cup (8 fl. oz.) of water, which will result in a pleasant, light green color. Starting off with a half a teaspoon is a great way to know if you enjoy the flavor, then you can always add more. Measuring can make or break how bitter the drink lands on the taste buds, so it's best to avoid eyeballing the amount of powder you're using.

Advertisement

When blending this fine green tea with water to create a concentrate needed for a matcha latte, only a couple ounces of water per half a teaspoon is necessary. Experiment with "less is more."

You’re using metal to mix it

These are the key components of a traditional matcha set: a bamboo matcha whisk, a clay matcha bowl known as a chawan, and a bamboo scoop called a chashaku, which is elongated to reach the bottom of a matcha tin. These choices aren't just aesthetic; they impact the flavor of the final product. Also integral to the process are a sifter, to allow for a smooth texture, and a natsume, essentially a tea caddy to prevent sunlight exposure and humidity. The bamboo matcha whisk allows the matcha and water to blend in smoothly and avoid a lumpy drink. Using a bamboo whisk in place of a metal spoon or metal whisk will also increase foaming of the matcha, delivering a smooth, delicate, slightly sweet taste that can get lost with metal.

Advertisement

Your water temperature is off

Matcha powder is delicate because it's so finely ground. This makes the green tea leaves susceptible to burning. If using too hot water to create a matcha concentrate, the leaves will boil. Much like leaving a regular green tea bag in very hot water for too long, the taste transitions into metallic territory. Ideally, 175 degrees Fahrenheit is just how hot you should go when mixing in water. You may prefer a lighter flavor for your matcha, and using cooler water is the key. Cold water won't hurt its leaves, so it's always better to scale down than to up the heat. And hey, you might avoid a burn to the hand in the process.

Advertisement

You aren’t using a sifter

We get it: It's early morning, and laziness is the name of the game. The idea of going through a multistep skin care routine can feel daunting enough, let alone preparing your choice of wake-me-up fluid if it's any more than two steps. If that's matcha for you, sifting the powder might feel like an obstacle. But it only takes a minute or so, and this step will make your drink taste more balanced, since you won't be coming across any thick, paste-like clumps of matcha that haven't fully been incorporated into the water. Tasting a bitter chunk of matcha can be avoided with the use of a small metal sifter, usually included in generic matcha tea sets. Ceremonial matcha sets won't include these, however, since the matcha powder is typically sifted through ahead of time.

Advertisement

You’re not keeping it cool

Matcha powder is delicate, with a shelf life dependent on the level of care it's given. Clear containers are not friendly with this powder; matcha should be in an opaque, airtight container and refrigerated. Refrigerating matcha or keeping it in a cool place will not only preserve this green tea's freshness, it will also ensure no sunlight gets to it, which accelerates its expiration. A tight tin container will ensure it doesn't get oxidized; this is why you'll see that matcha is traditionally sold in small tins at the store. Proper storage of matcha tea will also help retain its natural health benefits, including antioxidants and vitamins.

Advertisement

You’re adding sweetener at the wrong time

Matcha isn't traditionally served sweet, though some prefer a bit of sweetness to counteract the umami flavor this green tea can have. Adding in a sweetener after the concentrate has been mixed ensures it's properly incorporated into the drink. If you're using honey, the warm water will nicely melt it into the drink. On the other hand, adding the honey into an iced matcha at the wrong time will create clumps of sweetness that settle at the bottom of the cup, making for an unbalanced drinking experience. Having your choice of sweetener blended in ahead of time will make the sweet and earthy flavors much more compatible.

Advertisement

You’re buying it in bulk

Determining whether matcha is fresh or expired is relatively easy: just pay attention to the color and fragrance. If it's not vibrantly green, then it's probably on its way out. A green-gray shade won't be as flavorful as its emerald counterpart, nor will its antioxidant properties be as effective, if health is a factor in choosing to drink it. Matcha with a drab color may also be an indication that branches from the tea plant were incorporated into the batch, downgrading its overall quality. The solution? Buy matcha in smaller batches to make sure you're using it in its prime, within the first month of purchase.

Advertisement

You’re using the wrong grade

The world of matcha is vast, and being choosy about which type you splurge on will improve the overall drinking experience. Different grades of matcha serve varying purposes. The most common grades include culinary- and ceremonial-grade matcha, and both categories are produced a little differently. The texture and color of the powder is what sets each grade apart. Culinary-grade matcha has subgroups, some known as kitchen and ingredient grades. If treating yourself to a matcha at a standard coffee shop, the powder used will typically be kitchen-grade matcha, which isn't the best quality. Usually less costly, it's dark green in shade and boasts a bitter flavor. Ceremonial-grade matcha is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, and more care is put into its production. To make good matcha, ceremonial grade will provide the richest flavor.

Advertisement

You’re only using matcha for drinks

This powder has a range of uses beyond drinks. Matcha is a known exfoliator, and it's known for helping skin glow thanks to its cachetin content, which can prevent inflammation; because of this, many people use it as a face mask. It's also used in toothpaste, baking, cocktails, smoothies, and ice cream, and acts as a natural food dye. Try making these Matcha Chocolate Chunk Cookies and you'll see how versatile it can be.

Advertisement

Recommended

Advertisement