:: AN INTRODUCTION TO MATCHA ::
Matcha has been a staple in Japan for centuries and the term is essentially synonymous with green tea. Matcha, however, with its vibrant green bubbles, brings a refreshing and unique brightness to notions of a refined and traditional Japanese green.
Today Matcha is capturing attention around the world and making its way into homes and hearts locally as well. It is common to have heard of Matcha - but entirely different to know what it is. The uniqueness of this tea is that it comes to our tea bowl as a fine powder, created by grinding shade-grown ‘Tencha’ tea (camellia sinensis) leaves. In the sloping fields of Japan, the tea plants are covered with a shade cloth for a couple weeks before harvest. This adds a brighter green to the leaves, because it encourages more chlorophyll production. This not only adds more antioxidants, it also preserves sweeter, and grassier flavours.
Since Matcha uses the tea leaf in its entirety, when you drink Matcha you receive benefits of the whole leaf: the rich flavour experience and concentrated minerals and nutrients. Careful tending, precise harvesting, and perfected processing techniques are behind every high-quality Matcha. The difference in flavour and aroma of a hand-picked tea is noticeable, resulting in a Matcha more mellow and smooth. High-quality Matcha is rare. Part of the reasoning is that this tea grows in an environment just as unique and beautiful as the drink itself - originating in the Uji region in Japan. True Matcha has been used in the elaborate and exquisite rituals of traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies for centuries. We are proud to offer Matcha that honours and highlights its precious origins and truly natural form.
As an outside observer of Japanese tea culture, Matcha demonstrates to us that what may appear to be simple often invites a lifetime of learning. Whether for daily drinking or special moments of ceremony and contemplation, Matcha offers more than just micronized tea leaves. Westholme is thrilled to have a selection of Matcha that matches many occasions.
The emerald colour that swirls in your cup and aroma reminiscent of fresh grasses and spring rain offers a daily ritual for the emerging season. Just like the perfect balance of light and dark at the Equinox, Matcha is a tea of balance: With equal stimulating and soothing effects. It is at once sweet and astringent, silky and frothy. This tea has been a staple in Japan for centuries, favoured by many from the Samurai warriors to the meditating monks. Matcha reminds us to move with energies of renewal as they burst forth and still set aside time to rest and reflect.
MATCHA AT WESTHOLME
At Westholme, the process of preapring a bowl of Matcha serves as a relished afternoon pick-me-up and moment for pause before taking up another task. Our go-to is the exquisite culinary Matcha Keiki. This is a beautiful daily drinking Matcha – again with a perfect balance - of silkiness and frothiness and of quality and price point. Typically, culinary Matcha is used for baking rather than drinking, but Keiki boasts both – in fact it is the best culinary Matcha we have tried!
On the other end of the spectrum is our Matcha Kotobuki. This is a ceremonial grade Matcha, used in traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (Chanoyu). We also have a Jasmine flower Matcha, which brings the Chinese influence into the mix. We also offer a culinary Matcha, wonderful for all sorts of baking.
Tea tools can enrich and enhance the tea experience. Teaware and tea tools have been important for the process and ritual of proper Matcha preparation for centuries. Teaware and tea tools can encourage us to stick with our daily rituals, or enhance more momentus tea occasions. When we use teaware that we love, it can help bring us more to the present moment, and deeper to our experience of the tea!
For Matcha, in particular, there are a few basic tools which contribute to proper preparation, and honour the ancient traditions of this tea.
Margit’s has created a handbuilt take on the tea bowl or chawan, a traditional handleless cup. A chawan is part of the meditative and performative experience around preparing Matcha. The tea bowl is versatile, lending well to other types of lower temperature steeped teas too.
This traditional Japanese matcha whisk, known as a chasen, is used to mix and froth powdered matcha into hot water, breaking up the powdered tea leaves to create a smooth consistency and release the tea’s exquisite flavour. Used in traditional tea ceremonies to this day. It really is a must have for making a high-quality matcha. The higher the grade of Matcha the more finely it is ground, so a very rich foam on top is achieved when whisked with the bamboo chasen.
This traditional matcha scoop is a beautiful, minimalist tool to measure perfect portions into your bowl. Handmade from bamboo, it is both practical and ornamental teaware for the Matcha ceremonialist. The chashaku is used in traditional tea ceremonies to this day. Using a chashaku is like stepping back in time to try matcha in its original way!
This labelled stainless spoon makes perfecting a cup of matcha straightforward and uncomplicated. One level measurement of the Perfect Matcha Spoon is all you need to place in your favourite cup or bowl. From there, you can make common Western versions of Matcha: lattes, smoothies, or other recipes that inspire you!
HOW TO MAKE MATCHA
There are a few different methods to make matcha. These include: The Japanese Usucha method, the Japanese Koicha method, and the Western method.
The Usucha method is the standard and everyday way, creating a thin Matcha. The Koicha method is a special way that is used for tea ceremony, and creates a very strong and thick Matcha. The Western method lends well for Matcha lattes.
For all methods, we recommend that you begin with sifting the Matcha after measuring to remove any lumps. High grade Matcha is ground into very fine powder, and it can stick together.
To create a rich and foamy bowl of Matcha, a proper whisking technique is key. Move the bamboo Chasen quickly in a zig-zag motion, like writing the letter "W” with your wrist. Move your wrist back and forth quickly in short movements - not in a circular stirring motion. If you whisk too hard, you risk matcha spilling over the sides of the bowl. Getting good at this may require some practice, although this too is part of the beautiful process and ritual associated with Matcha. This whisking method is what creates the silky smooth tea and beautiful bubbly frothy lather.
:: Japanese Usucha (Standard) Method ::
Use 1 teaspoon Matcha Powder and 1/4 cup water. Water should be 75ºC - 80ºC. Sift the measured matcha powder into a tea bowl. Start by adding only a small splash of water to begin - just enough to create a paste using a bamboo matcha whisk in a zig-zag motion. Then slowly add the remainder of the water. Whisk thoroughly. To create the froth on the top, bring the whisk closer to the surface, keeping with the same motion.
:: Japanese Koicha (Ceremonial) Method ::
Use 1 -2 Chashaku scoops of Matcha and 1/8 cup of water. Water should be 75ºC - 80ºC. Sift the measured matcha powder into a tea bowl. Start by adding only a small amount of water to begin, just enough to create a paste using a bamboo matcha whisk in a zig-zag motion. Slowly add the remainder of the water. Serve immediately.
:: Western Method ::
Use 1 teaspoon of Matcha powder per 1 cup of water or warmed milk. Water should be 75ºC - 80ºC. Sift the measured matcha powder into a tea bowl. Start by adding only a small amount of water to begin, just enough to create a paste using a bamboo matcha whisk in a zig-zag motion. Add the remainder of the water or warmed milk until desired strength and texture is reached. For an iced Matcha Latté, pour frothed mixture over ice.