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Everything about Matcha....


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#1 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 07:37 AM

A recent tasting at the T-Bar Club of The Cultured Cup introduced me to Matcha, the Japanese green tea used during the Japanese Tea Ceremony. I am going to have one of Ginny Marsh's tea bowls (Chawan) soon and want to add a Japanese Matcha whisk and Matcha scoop. The Cultured Cup is getting in some very high quality Matcha soon, too, so I want to try that, but also would like to find some good, but less expensive alternatives.

So I am curious about other's experience with Matcha. Please show us your tea bowls and other Matcha pieces. What are some good other sources for the equipment and the tea?

#2 Naftal

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 09:51 AM

Hello-Originally, all tea was powdered. When the Chinese brought tea to Japan, they brougt over a powdered variety. This is why powdered tea "matcha" is used in the Japanese tea ceremony. Recently, I went to a store that imports stuff from Taiwan and I discovered that they had/sold a very nice powdered tea that I use the way I would use matcha.I do not have a tea-bowl. I use any nice ceramic bowl that can hold enough water. The Japanese once believed that the ideal tea bowl resembled a Korean rice-bowl.So now I am looking for a traditional Korean rice-bowl, any suggestions?

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#3 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 11:13 AM

How is a Korean rice bowl differnt from a Chinese or Japanese rice bowl, Naftal?

#4 Naftal

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 03:26 PM

How is a Korean rice bowl differnt from a Chinese or Japanese rice bowl, Naftal?

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Richard-I really don't know.My sources did not go into detail and I have not found one yet.But, I am still looking.

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#5 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 05:26 PM

How is a Korean rice bowl differnt from a Chinese or Japanese rice bowl, Naftal?

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Richard-I really don't know.My sources did not go into detail and I have not found one yet.But, I am still looking.

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Perhaps they are referring to the Japanese Chawan designs being rooted in Korean designs due to "The Potters' War". (The potter Ginny Marsh first told me about this history.) Hideyoshi, the Samuri warlord who unified Japan, invaded Korea and conscripted several thousand Korean potters who became the basis of fine Japanese pottery. Many Japanese potters today are descendants of these Korean potters.

Here's a link to a site with more on fine Korean pottery and its history. The link takes you to pottery including several celadon Korean tea bowls. However, I think it is the Punch'ong rough style of pottery that went to Japan with the Korean potters and is related to the wabi-sabi aesthetic, seen for example in Japanese Hagi-ware.

#6 jpr54_

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 04:06 PM

richard-it is a pleasure to read your posts and questions
i hope u can bring in others to this board-

#7 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 07:40 PM

I have been learning to make matcha recently. Here's the process I have been using informally at the kitchen counter.

The basic equipment: a chawan (Japanese tea bowl) from The Cultured Cup made by Japanese-American ceramic artist Aki Shiratori, a chasen (bamboo matcha whisk), bamboo tea scoop for matcha, a special stainless steel sifter and the matcha - an Organic Yabe Matcha from yuuki-cha.com.

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First I warm the brittle dry chasen in the chawan in order to make it more flexible, the water warming the bowl at the same time. While the chasen and chawan are warming, two scoops of matcha go onto the screen and are sifted and pushed with the bamboo paddle into the bottom of the sifter.

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Then the tea bowl is dried thoroughly, and the sifted matcha goes into it.

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A little over 2 ounces of 170 F water is poured over the matcha. Then the whisking begins. This takes a minute or two in order to develop the foaming surface that indicates the matcha powder is in suspension in the water.

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With matcha you are actually drinking a suspension of the tea leaves in powdered form, rather than drinking an infusion as we do in most other forms of tea drinking.

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Edited by Richard Kilgore, 19 December 2009 - 11:03 PM.
added chawan ID


#8 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 12:27 AM

What quantity of tea are you using, for that volume of water?

#9 nickrey

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 02:17 AM

The information that I have is that there are two different strengths of tea.

The first is called Usacha, which is a weaker version that is popular, this is made with 2 chashaku (1/2 level teaspoon) to 75 ml of water (below boiling [85 - 95 degrees celsius]).

The second is the one used in the tea ceremony, Koicha, which is stronger. This uses 4 chashaku (1 level tsp) of matcha to around 55 ml of hot water.

Sorry about only using metric but it's all I've got.

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#10 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 06:57 AM

Nick is correct in pointing out that there is usacha (thin matcha), which is what you would be starting with, and koicha (thick matcha). It's not only the amount of matcha powder used, but different matcha is used for thick and thin. I think most matcha powder for koicha may be used for thin matcha, but not vice versa.

Here's a link to the brewing instructions for matcha on yuuki-cha.com, which may interest you.

I think the only crucial equipment is a chawan (tea bowl) and a chasen (whisk). Different whisks are used for usacha and koicha. In a pinch you could try using a bowl you already have, although I think the texture of the surface of a good chawan makes the whisking more effective, but you really, really need a bamboo chasen. Sifting is important for the matcha not to clump when you whisk it; you can try using some other kind of tea strainer or kitchen sifter, but I ended up with the dedicated matcha sifter from yuuki-cha.

I have been using a chasaku rather than measuring weight, but I'll weigh it today to find out. Some matchas are best with a little more powder than others in the powder to water ratio.

#11 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 10:19 AM

Today, WC, my two scoops of matcha weighed in at 1.1 g. combined. But it all depends on how much you load into the scoop. I fill it almost as full as possible.

#12 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 07:34 PM

Matcha from a couple of days ago. A yuuki-cha matcha prepared in a chawan made by Chicago studio potter Jay Strommen. The clay is his own brew and the style is a blend of Shigaraki, Bizen and Shino.

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#13 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 06:51 PM

Bought a chasen today and a simple 8 oz white porcelain rice bowl for a first go at matcha, and an extra pair of gaiwans soni have a matched set of four for tastings. All ready for the Wuyis.

#14 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 06:57 PM

How do you clean & store your chasen? The container it came in is hard plastic and
mostly airtight....seems like an invitation to mold.

#15 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:21 PM

How do you clean & store your chasen? The container it came in is hard plastic and
mostly airtight....seems like an invitation to mold.


I have simply been rinsing mine out well, letting it stand on end and air dry as long as practical and then storing in in the plastic sleeve - handle down - with the lid off. So far this seems to work okay as far as mold prevention goes. But on my next order, I am going to get a kusenaoshi (whisk keeper) from Dan at yuuki-cha.com. These doo-dads are designed to help the chasen maintain its shape longer.

#16 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 01:26 PM

I have been improving my whisking technique lately. The goal is to produce very small bubbles for a sweeter taste - smaller than the ones in the photo up-topic. Start out whisking as rapidly as possible for at least 60 seconds, until the surface is covered with bubbles, some large, some smaller. Then gradually whisk slower and slower, which reduces the size of the bubbles. This works very well for me.

Anyone else have a whisking technique to share?

#17 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 03:55 PM

I am curious as to who else here drinks matcha - even occasionally.

#18 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 06:14 PM

Mine is still unopened in the cupboard; I have the whisk, and a reasonably sized and shaped bowl, and just need a quiet weekend day to make my first attempt. Probably will break into it within a week or so.

#19 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 06:03 PM

Adventures in Making Matcha

My current efforts at learning more about matcha involve working my way through the organic matchas at yuuki-cha.com. I'll eventually try other matchas, but for now it makes sense to me to focus on these organics as a way of having some kind of cohesive experience. And the fast shipping and customer service at yuuki-cha.com have been great.

I first tried the Organic Yame Matcha as an inexpensive way to get started and to learn how to use a whisk properly. I really liked this matcha; it was much smoother and tastier than I anticipated, and I would gladly drink it daily.

Now I am making the Organic Uji Matcha Yuuki Midori. A small step up in price and a little richer taste. Interestingly, the first time I made it I did not care for it and was concerned I was not going to like it at all. But each time I have whisked up a bowl it has gotten better. This could be due to several factors, including me simply learning how to make it with the right amount of matcha. But I have also made it in a different chawan each day - different shapes, different clays, different glazes. And other teas have needed a week or two rest after arriving from Asia to brew well for whatever reason, so that's a possibility, too.

In a few weeks, I'll be ready for the next one. In the meantime, I'll try to figure out what makes the taste somewhat different from day to day.

#20 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:07 PM

Tried my first matcha this morning. Reviewed instructions on Dens and Yukki-Cha sites, watched a youtube video to prepare.

Used 1 gram sifted Dens organic matcha in a plain porcelain bowl, 3 oz water, water started at about 180 degrees in the first bowl before adding to the matcha in the mixing bowl, whisked well with the chasen, got to a nice foam. I did not preheat the pseudo-chawan, per dens direction, so the water hitting the tea was starting at about 180 but should have cooled to about 160 pretty quickly, although I didn't remeasure the temp as I whisked it. The foam was thick and pleasant.

Just didn't care so much for the flavor. It was not particularly bitter, but very strongly umami and not very sweet.

So....a few questions: the youtube video suggests more whisking will sweeten the tea. But whisking should be oxidizing things, and extra rest time does not seem to sweeten my senchas or dragon wells. Is whisking sweetening or just for foam/texturizing? And what should I try first to maximize the sweetness--change temps, proportions, whisk more/less?

#21 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 06:16 PM

Thanks for pointing to You Tube, WmC. This clip is not great, but there may be a better example available. He does not fill the bowl with warm water and add the chasen to pre-heat the bowl while moistening the whisk - then drying the bowl before adding the matcha; nor does he move back and forth in a M or W very much, staying more in the center. His idea of filling it up a third of the way is less than helpful, since chawan vary significantly in size. He ends up with very, very large bubbles. I'll look through them to see if there is anything better.

My foam bubbles in post #12 above are too large. The ones in #7 are better, but I am now getting much smaller bubbles and the flavor does seem to have improved. A Japanese tea-friend told me to whisk furiously for at least a minute until the bowl is fully covered with foam. The whisk should be just off the bottom of the bowl. Then keep whisking, but very gradually slow down the whisking to get smaller and smaller bubbles. This works - you may want to give it a try.

Since this is a Den's matcha, I would be inclined to follow their directions to a T for four or five attempts and then vary parameters in small increments if that does not suit you. Experience is probably the key, but certainly people prefer one matcha over another.

Hope this addressed most of your questions, if in a round about way. If not, let me know.

#22 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 06:28 PM

Thanks. I may not have done enough whisking first time around. I did soak the chasen in the pitcher I poured the boiling water into; otherwise it was per the Dens web site.

#23 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:43 AM

You also may want to try pouring the hot water at the recommended temperature. While the temp will probably drop 10 degrees in a minute or so, that still has hotter water hitting the matcha powder initially, which is likely to effect the outcome. Just like pouring 180 F water onto sencha leaves would effect it.

#24 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 01:02 PM

Actually, the temperature was the 180 degrees recommended in their chart halfway down this page on the web site.

#25 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 04:21 PM

Thanks. I see what you mean now. They don't pre-heat the bowl, but use a higher temp than I am used to.

#26 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 03:13 PM

In looking through my notes, it's a shorter initial whisking my Japanese Tea Friend recommended, 10 - 20 seconds. Hmmm. I am sure I have sometimes had longer whisking do better than shorter, but the critical factor may have been the gradual slowing down, or it could have been which one of several tea bowls I was using. I am going to have to keep notes on all aspects, including my timing, to get a better picture of what is happening.

#27 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 05:36 PM

The weight of "two" scoops of matcha varied a bit today. First set of two scoops = 1.1 g; second scoop = 2.0 g. I did not try to make them visually look the same, each time just dipped in the tin twice, grabbed two unsifted scoops and weighed them. Next time I'll see if I can shoot for some consistency.

#28 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 04:04 PM

The weight of "two" scoops of matcha varied a bit today. First set of two scoops = 1.1 g; second scoop = 2.0 g. I did not try to make them visually look the same, each time just dipped in the tin twice, grabbed two unsifted scoops and weighed them. Next time I'll see if I can shoot for some consistency.


Today I also noticed that with at least one chawan I have been using a little more water than intended. This time I measured and both batches were 2.4 - 2.5 ounces.

The first set of two scoops weighed in at 1.1 g and the second at 1.4. Both brewed at 160 F in a prewarmed Shigaraki chawan, the second one produced more foam and had a more satisfying, sweeter, richer mouth feel and flavor. The rapid whisking was about 40 seconds each time. Even with the larger amount of matcha, I could not get enough bubbles in the 20 second target I was hoping for.

#29 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 01:57 PM

Tried again with the Dens organic matcha today.

Prewarmed the bowl, 1 gram of matcha, sifted into the bowl, 3 ounces of 160° water, whisked as vigorously as I could, not sure for how long--did not set a timer.

Still was very umami, not at all bitter, but a bit more like drinking nutritional yeast than like the gorgeous sweetness of the sencha I made afterwards.

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I was surprised and a bit frustrated by all those big bubbles that popped up as the tea settled while I was grabbing the camera.

#30 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 03:40 PM

First matcha in the pretty new cup. It is just big enough to accomodate the chasen. I spun the chasen between my palms and got a very nice foam, quick & easy:

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But the tea, while not bitter or astringent or in any way unpleasant, was not particularly tasty either.