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Matcha Tips

Updated: Jul 3

I didn't want to take away from the spirituality of my previous matcha post with these more mundane, practical observations and guidance, so I saved them for a separate post here.


Purity. The tender, succulent leaves that end up being ground into matcha powder are favored by insects, too! So tea is commonly grown with pesticides. If this is a concern for you, go with organic matcha. It typically does not ascend to the highest levels of most-coveted matcha releases, but at least it won't have pesticides, either.


Also, some samples of matcha have been shown to contain high levels of heavy metals. Stick with reputable brands that specialize exclusively in Japanese green tea or matcha. Many of these companies are also transparent with their testing for pesticides, heavy metals, and radiation (a relatively new concern after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami).


Some premium brands worth checking out, in no particular order (I have not tried all of these, and not all of them have organic matcha):


  • Ippodo

  • Sugimoto

  • Mizuba

  • Tezumi

  • Sazen Tea

  • River & Stone Tea

  • A Thirst for Tea

  • Tea Dealers

  • Tea & Whisk

  • Purematcha

  • Nio Teas

  • Matcha.com

  • Kettl

  • Soar Organics

  • Midori Spring

  • Encha

  • Matchaeco

  • My Matcha Life

  • Matchaful


Storage. There is some debate on this, but I firmly believe in storing matcha powder in an airtight, opaque container in the refrigerator. Heat, light, and humidity are the enemies of matcha!


How quickly should you use up matcha powder once the tin or bag has been opened? Recommendations vary from 3 weeks to 3 months, but if you can err towards the former instead of the latter, you will guarantee yourself more beautiful sips of fresh-tasting tea.


Timing. The best time of day to drink matcha is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, to give you that gentle energy boost and infuse your body with all of its goodness and nutrients. However, if that upsets your digestion, then drink it 1-2 hours after breakfast. Drinking matcha with food can inhibit the absorption of some of its most beneficial components. Because of the caffeine content, however, drink it as early in the day as possible so it doesn't affect your sleep at night.


If you're making a matcha latte, don't use dairy milk; it sticks to the beneficial polyphenols and passes them through your digestive system, robbing you of their benefits. (I have completely moved away from matcha lattes, because why muddle up the exquisite, delicate taste of the matcha I paid a premium for? Or worse, add sweeteners?!?)


Form and function. Matcha bowls come in all kinds of designs and contours. I never realized just how many until I saw this incredible article from Tezumi describing the different shapes.


Wanna go down the rabbit hole? This might be the most comprehensive article on the Internet covering the history and pottery styles (glazes, clays, artistic adornments, etc.) of matcha bowls.


There are certain things you should consider when choosing a matcha bowl:


  • Interior shape. Avoid bowls that have the combination of straight sides and flat bottoms, as the whisk cannot get into those corners at the bottom. But the opposite is also a problem: sides that have too much of a shallow slope into a miniscule bottom leave little room for the whisk to maneuver.

  • Exterior foot. The second bowl described above most likely tapers on the outside as well to an extremely small foot; this makes it unstable and prone to tipping over.

  • Width. One of the traditional bowl shapes is the "summer style," deliberately wide and short for the purpose of allowing matcha to cool off faster in the summertime heat. But why? Matcha is usually whisked with a very small amount (2-4 oz.) of water, so it cools off very quickly anyway. (Just the act of whisking matcha for 30+ seconds already gives the cooling process a head start!) Lukewarm matcha is not matcha at its best — cooling it off quickly is not something you need to worry about.

  • Spout. Some matcha bowls have a built-in spout, which is fine if you think you might pour your matcha into a different drinking vessel. If you don't transfer the matcha, you can sip from the opposite side of the bowl. (I personally don't feel the need for the option of a spout.)


Measuring. Now I'm getting into really discriminating details, but this feels significant to me. After starting my matcha journey with the traditional chashaku bamboo scoop, I soon switched to a metal teaspoon. Why? Two reasons:


  1. Consistency. Using a bamboo scoop is extremely inexact. With the metal teaspoon I can dependably measure out the same amount of matcha powder each and every time (using a butter knife to level off the teaspoon).

  2. Wear. When using a bamboo scoop to push the matcha powder through the sifter, this abrades the back surface of the scoop, shortening its lifespan. No such worries with the metal teaspoon.


And because I love me man-toys, I'm not using the boring, standard teaspoon found on most matcha websites (and most likely made in China); I went with an artisan Tsubame hand-hammered teaspoon (to go along with my Tsubame hand-hammered sifter!).


All of these considerations and choices only move me towards the perfection of the experience. I hope they add a little extra magic to your matcha pilgrimage as well!

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