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Green tea has long played an important role in Japanese culture. In today's article we'll teach you the basic steps for making tasty matcha green tea at home. You'll soon realize that it's not nearly as difficult and complicated as you once thought.
If you've made the effort to come all the way to Japan, then an authentic matcha green tea is a drink you need to try at least once.
Preparing green tea (tateru *1) while following the formal protocol of a tea ceremony is a huge and demanding undertaking, but if you just want to brew a cup at home it's actually quite simple.
If you remember the steps for preparing tea, and assemble the necessary ingredients and tools, you can enjoy green tea no matter where you are in the world!
So if you can get a hold of some matcha green tea powder and a chasen, or bamboo whisk, in today's article we'll show you the steps for preparing this drink.
*1 Tateru: In the Japanese language, matcha oh tateru, means to prepare matcha green tea.
Firstly, put the matcha green tea powder into the tea bowl. If you have a special tea-making spoon (chashaku) you can put in two spoonfuls, but if you're using a regular teaspoon then it's no problem to just put in half a teaspoon.
In the photo above, we've put the powder directly into the tea bowl, but in order to eliminate any clumps of powder it's a good idea to sift it by using a sieve of some sort.
You can purchase matcha green tea powder at any supermarket or specialty tea store in Japan.
Next, we'll add the hot water. The temperature of the water should be about 80-90 degrees.
If the water is too hot it'll be difficult to prepare the tea, and if the water temperature drops too much you won't get the desired consistency with the bubbles and foam.
It's best to use about 60-70 cc (cubic centimeters) of hot water. This amount will fill about one fourth or one fifth of the tea bowl.
The less water there is the easier it'll be to prepare the tea, but at the same time the level of bitterness will increase. So adjust the amount of water according to your taste preference.
Also, if you want to prepare more than one tea simultaneously, it's best to pour the hot water into just one bowl at a time, before preparing the next one.
For example, if you pour hot water into all the bowls at the same time, as you're preparing the first one, the water temperature in the other bowls will drop, resulting in tea without the desired frothy, foamy consistency on top.
After adding the hot water it's now time to prepare the tea. At this juncture in time, we now call upon the assistance of a tool called a chasen, which is essentially a bamboo whisk.
Since the many thin rods (called tines) sticking out from the handle of the whisk are made of bamboo, your whisk is a very delicate instrument that needs to be treated with care and respect.
After using the whisk do not use harsh detergents and bleaches, but instead wash it with water and give it sufficient time to dry out.
You can buy a chasen at any specialty tea store or souvenir shop, and in recent years they've even been available at 100 yen shops.
As soon as you pour in the hot water you can begin preparing the tea. Initially you can mix the tea slowly, making sure to dissolve any powder that might be stuck on the bottom.
Try to move the chasen in a back and forth motion so that little waves are formed, rather than using a stirring or beating motion.
Once you're sure that all of the green tea powder has been dissolved, now the real challenge begins. Basically, your hand movements don't really change, but compared to before, you need to move your hand in a swift and nimble manner.
The key here is not to move your arm, but to only move your wrist. Make sure that the chasen doesn't touch the bottom of the tea bowl, but moves back and forth just along the top of the water.
When bubbles start forming and the surface of the tea turns a whitish color, you can then start eliminating the large bubbles. To do this, gently stroke the top of the water surface with the chasen.
When the bubbles are small and of uniform size, write the Japanese character "の" on the surface with your chasen, and now you're all done!
When you write the character "の", bubbles start moving into the center, giving your tea a more beautiful appearance.
If you don't add enough tea powder, or if you pour in too much hot water, you won't get the proper consistency with the bubbles and foam. Also if you take too long in preparing your tea, the temperature of the water will steadily decrease, which will have a negative effect on the end result.
So the main point is to prepare the tea in a brisk and efficient manner.
With that you've now learned the fundamental steps of preparing tea in perfect form. Now get your matcha green tea powder and chasen and give it a try!
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All pictures from PIXTA