My package finally arrived! Included was a 1.06 tin of ceremonial grade matcha and a bamboo whisk (chasen). Thank you to DoMatcha for holding this contest! I decided to go ahead and prepare this thick style right off the bat. For those who are unfamiliar with matcha, there are two ways matcha is usually prepared: thick style (koicha) and thin style (usucha). Koicha is prepared using more matcha and less water, and thus requires very high grade matcha; using a lower grade matcha to make koicha will result in a bitter, undrinkable mess. Generally speaking, the higher the grade of matcha, the sweeter and less bitter it will be. I’m using the directions a friend of mine told me about preparing koicha, as well as the instructions listed at http://www.yuuki-cha.com/matcha_green_tea_powder.php. Note: These directions are for koicha (thick) matcha, and not usucha.
1. Sift 3.5 chashaku scoops of matcha into pre-heated, dry bowl.
The chashaku is a bamboo scoop that comes with many matcha sets. I read on a blog that the amount of matcha in a single chashaku scoop should be about the size of an almond—if anyone has learned tea ceremony, please let me know if this is accurate.
2. Heat 40-50mL of water to a temperature between 70°C and 80°C (158°F and 176°F).
I went with just under 50 mL of 165°F water which probably cooled down a little before I had a chance to add it to the matcha powder.
3. Add a small amount of the water to the sifted matcha to create a thick paste. Using the chasen (bamboo whisk), knead (don’t whisk!) the water and matcha powder together using up/down and left/right motions, or a calm 360° rotating motion.
The water and matcha paste actually was fairly smooth from what I could see, probably thanks to the sifting. It almost looked like green paint.
4. Add the rest of the water to the matcha powder. Continue kneading, not whisking, the matcha. Koicha is not supposed to be frothy, and the kneading should produce a tea that is thick, smooth, and without froth.
The resulting tea was thick and smooth. I was shocked because there was absolutely no bitterness. None. Whatsoever. Maybe my taste buds are off because I’m used to drinking very concentrated matcha using crappy quality powder, but really: I didn’t taste any bitterness or astringency. The flavor of the matcha was a little more on the savory side than sweet. It was vegetal and just lightly sweet, similar to steamed green beans, and oh so creamy…mmm. There wasn’t much of a sea or seaweedy taste. There was no grittiness or left-over clumps, and there was such a small amount of tea (50 ml) that there was no opportunity for settling. The temperature was a bit cool for me, probably because I sifted the powder after the water was done heating up, instead of before, so it just sat on my counter losing heat. Oops.
I prepared a bowl of my really low grade matcha from Mighty Leaf in the same way, and the result was a very bitter and had a thinner mouthfeel, for some reason. So, another plus of the DoMatcha ceremonial grade: the mouthfeel was really smooth, thick, and creamy. The Mighty Leaf was also gritty and didn’t mix as well as the DoMatcha, but that might have been because of error in preparation.
Unfortunately, this is the first ceremonial grade matcha I’ve ever tried, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. However, this is a really delicious matcha, and the lack of bitterness, the sweetness and savoriness, and the creamy and thick mouthfeel all make this one a winner for me.