Matcha beginner


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Matcha beginner

Postby blackbird » Apr 23rd, '12, 11:21

Hello all! I've decided to stop lurking and become a fully fledged member, and I have some matcha questions that I hope someone can help me with!

I bought some matcha and a whisk a few months ago and was fairly underwhelmed. The original matcha I got wasn't the greatest quality (I was a penniless but aspirational student :)) but actually I thought the taste wasn't unpleasant - sort of vegetal? On the other hand, it also didn't blow me away. I then bought a whisk (having realised that a fork wouldn't do the job...) which made the texture much more palatable but did nothing special for the taste. I also got a free sample of a better quality matcha, much brighter in colour, but that didn't really taste much different. Also, I tried so many times to get the lovely creamy foam that you see in all the pictures...and I'm getting nothing like it :?

I've been trying to decide whether my problems are due to the quality of my matcha or the fact that our water is incredibly hard...is that making the foam-challenge impossible? And finally - is it actually possible to achieve a creamy matcha that tastes different to a vegetal green tea?

Hope someone can help with my matcha dilemma :D
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby AdamMY » Apr 23rd, '12, 11:35

The trick to a good foam/ froth is strong wrist muscles. You may think I am joking, but you really need to work the whisk, making sure you are not dragging it on the bottom of the bowl. As the only way the froth forms is to get quite a bit of air trapped in the tea. One thing many people do at first is try and brew their matcha too cold. The colder the water the harder it is to get the good froth.

Its the need to get the water in a perfect temperature range, that I consider Matcha to be one of the hardest Japanese teas to brew. Too hot and it will be too bitter. Too cold and it doesn't look right. When its just right, its magical.
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby puerhking » Apr 23rd, '12, 11:45

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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby rdl » Apr 23rd, '12, 12:57

i am not sure about the hard water issue, but i have a slightly different take on preparing matcha that may help. first is give it some time. i had a long period after my first bowl or two of matcha, and it was over that time of actually not drinking it that i came to appreciate it. it does have that unique taste you describe, and it takes some time to get used to. some people add a sweetener to their matcha, and it is suggested to eat a sweet with matcha to balance the two flavors.
to whisk your matcha powder, i suggest you use an forearm movement, rather than the wrist. i think you will find a difference. also, try to put it through a fine screen filter or sieve before you add water. if not, try to smooth it out as best as possible. clumpy powder will not froth as well. as for water - start with water just too hot to drink. by the time you've prepared it, it will be cool enough to drink. if it cools too much it won't froth. i don't think after some practice - and that's what less expensive matcha is great for - you will still have problems.
good luck!
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby blackbird » Apr 24th, '12, 08:43

Hm, thanks for the advice. I've been sifting the matcha through a small plastic sieve, which might not be aesthetically perfect but does the job! Had a couple of attempts this morning - the first in a few weeks - which reaffirmed that I like the taste but that I'm clearly doing something wrong with the whisking. I can get bubbles...lots of largish bubbles that begin to burst immediately, but never reach anything like foamy froth.

puerhking wrote:Watch this video...it will help.

http://www.o-cha.com/green-teas/matcha-powdered-green-tea/
I had another look at this video (I've looked at the same one in frustration before!) and I can't see that he's doing anything drastically different to what I'm doing. Except succeeding in getting the texture right, of course... Does the ratio of powder to water make much of a difference? Although I've tried various combinations and that doesn't seem to make much difference. I'll keep practicing, but if there are any more magic tips I'd love to hear them :lol:
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby Xell » Apr 24th, '12, 09:42

I got fine froth quite fast, only 2-3 attempts and it was already good. How much water and matcha are you using? For me it was more easy to get good froth with 60-70ml and 1.5-2 bamboo spoons. Also found that i get better result, when i lightly touch the bottom of chawan while whisking. I didn't check time, but i guess it takes me about 15-20 seconds to get 3-5mm thick layer of fine froth. Few big bubbles do appear time to time, but it's easy to pop them with whisk once done.

If you do same fast whisking as in video, then first what comes in mind is something wrong with your matcha.
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby edkrueger » Apr 24th, '12, 12:50

Bad matcha will never get froth. Can you tell us where the matcha is from?
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby blackbird » Apr 24th, '12, 13:32

This is what I've been thinking, but my newer matcha looks much better quality (bright green, pleasant smell) than the original and it's still not working. The newer version is a sample I was sent from Jenier teas - I'm assuming it's this one
http://www.jenierteas.com/izu-japanese-matcha-green-tea-p713
.

Today and usually I've been using about 200ml of water to between 1/2 and 1 tsp - don't have a scoop - but have varied the amounts of each at other times, and it doesn't seem to make much difference. It's annoying me now...can you tell?! I've also tried a variety of whisking actions but presumably not the right one :roll:
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby blairswhitaker » Apr 24th, '12, 13:50

I just want to be clear this may seem like a obvious question, but are you using a bamboo chasen or a metal kitchen whisk?
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby blackbird » Apr 24th, '12, 14:01

No, I bought a chasen! I don't yet have a chawan (is that the right word?) but do use a bowl that is the same shape. And I somehow think that if I can't get any sort of foam then it's not the bowl!
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby blairswhitaker » Apr 24th, '12, 14:30

blackbird wrote:No, I bought a chasen! I don't yet have a chawan (is that the right word?) but do use a bowl that is the same shape. And I somehow think that if I can't get any sort of foam then it's not the bowl!


Is there any chance of you being able to post a video? I strongly believe with the help on TC we can get you making a very acceptable bowl of usucha!!!

here are the parameters I use for ususcha, two chashaku of matcha, 70ml of water ( I always use a hishaku but I just measured it to see how much water I was using). I use water at 80c. pre warm the bowl, dry the bowl. Add the matcha pour in my ladle of water, whisk very intensely until the foam is of a consistency I like.

Do you use a thermometer for you water temperature or check the bubbles?
80c =176f or small bubbles forming in kettle.

blackbird wrote:
Today and usually I've been using about 200ml of water to between 1/2 and 1 tsp - don't have a scoop - but have varied the amounts of each at other times, and it doesn't seem to make much difference. It's annoying me now...can you tell?! I've also tried a variety of whisking actions but presumably not the right one :roll:


200ml of water is WAY to much water you will never get any foam using this much water, reduce you water to something around 60 - 70ml and give that a try. I strongly believe after everything you have posted your main problem is using a volume of water that is to high to create foam.

best of luck, you will have success if you keep at it.

Blair
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby rdl » Apr 24th, '12, 15:42

Xell wrote:If you do same fast whisking as in video, then first what comes in mind is something wrong with your matcha.


i was surprised as well that in the video he is whisking for 1 minute, as i noticed on the progress bar. i know different schools and experts have their tradition, but it seems excessive to me.

blairswhitaker wrote:200ml of water is WAY to much water you will never get any foam using this much water, reduce you water to something around 60 - 70ml and give that a try. I strongly believe after everything you have posted your main problem is using a volume of water that is to high to create foam.
Blair

i fully agree. the traditional quantity is, i believe, drinking 3 1/2 mouthfuls of prepared matcha. if you like to drink a more full bowl of matcha that's fine, but if you don't increase the powder you'll have a foamless bowl of matcha. i've never tried it like that but i would guess more matcha will make foam. does anyone know how much powder to use for 200ml water?
let us know how you resolve all this.
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby Chip » Apr 24th, '12, 16:34

I would agree ... tooooo much water ... and too little matcha for the amount of water.

We often discuss ratios here, but a scale is often needed. For usacha I generally use 0.5 - 0.75 grams matcha or more per 1 ounce (30 ml) water.

Following this ratio, this would require a LOT of matcha, at least 3.5 grams of matcha since this is almost 7 ounces.

I am not familiar with this vendor, but the photo is not impressive, should be much more neon/vibrant green. As also mentioned above, bad matcha will yield all around bad results.
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby Xell » Apr 25th, '12, 01:26

Quite cheap for matcha, especially considering location is not Japan, which for sure increases cost. As already mentioned, color looks dull. Even if you do get froth i doubt it will have taste that you can be excited about. I'd recommend to try 60ml water and half teaspoon, this should be close to one bamboo scoop.


And one more thing, i saw that it had only 200g pack. This is not a good idea to buy that much in one pack :) Matcha has really short shelf life once you open package and even when sealed and kept in fridge, it still can't be stored long. 20-40g packs are more suited for personal use. At most what i could use myself is 100g pack (i would gladly drink 2-4 bowls of matcha a day), but i would use a separate small can and put rest in fridge.
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Re: Matcha beginner

Postby Kevangogh » Apr 26th, '12, 01:47

You can take it to the bank that the guy in the video knows what he is doing, he takes weekly lessons from a teacher who also instructs the Maiko and Geisha in Kyoto...
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