Over the past few years, Matcha tea started getting a lot of attention. Matcha tea is one of the many kinds of Japanese green tea and each kind has its own unique taste and brewing method.
How does one get the right taste, though?
Brewing Japanese green tea is easy once you know exactly how the process works, and that’s what we’ll be explaining in this article. We’ll show you everything you’d need to know about brewing Japanese green tea.
What Should I Do Before Brewing Japanese Green Tea?
When you’re first buying your green tea, you want to make sure to get them in good condition. Opt for whole leaves rather than broken ones. You’ll need to take a look around in different places to figure out which place sells the best green tea leaves.
Once you’ve purchased your green tea, it’s essential to keep it as far away as possible from heat, excessive light, strong odors, and water or moisture. These factors will affect the quality of the tea and change its taste.
We suggest that you buy small quantities so you’d be able to finish it in less time for the best quality of tea.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the type of water you’re using to make your tea. It’s a good idea to use water that only has a few or no minerals at all. You should try to avoid using tap water and distilled water.
How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Japanese Green Tea
When we’re brewing black tea, it’s a rather simpler process than green tea. With green tea, it’s a bit more sensitive. Knowing how long to steep your tea and the amount of water and leaf ration will matter significantly.
Here’s how to brew the perfect Japanese green tea.
What’s the Proper Water Temperature?
This is one of the most important factors when brewing green tea. The reason is that there’s a substance called Catechin in green tea. This is what gives green tea the bitter taste.
When the tea is steeped for too long, this substance will cause the excess taste of bitterness.
The following is the temperature for each kind of green tea:
- Hojicha, Genmaicha, Kukicha, and Bancha: 175 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sencha: 120 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Tencha: 155 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit
What is the Right Water to Leaf Ratio?
You’d need to have the proper amount of both water and leaves in order to get the right taste. If you place too many leaves with a little amount of water, you’ll end up having tea with an overstated taste.
Add the following amount of green tea to 100 ml of water:
- Hojicha, Genmaicha, Kukicha, and Bancha: 7 to 8 grams
- Sencha: 4 grams
- Tencha: 3 grams
How Long Should You Steep?
For this process, there’s a recommended time that you could follow. You should keep in mind though that with steeping, everyone has their own taste preference.
A few seconds difference in the recommended time won’t have that big of a difference in taste.
If you steep the tea for too long or too little, it’ll affect the taste significantly. That’s why we strongly advise you to experiment a couple of times until you reach your desired taste.
What follows is how long you should steep each type of green tea:
- Hojicha, Genmaicha, Kukicha, and Bancha: between half a minute and two minutes
- Sencha: between one and three minutes maximum
- Tencha: between one and two minutes
Can You Steep More than Once?
With some types of green tea, if you re-steep it once or even twice, it’ll give you a stronger taste. Keep in mind, though, that this could also add the taste of bitterness if it’s re-steeped for long.
Therefore when you steep your Japanese green tea for a second time or more, shorten the period of steeping.
What Do You Need for Brewing Japanese Tea?
There are two basic utensils that you’d use when brewing; the pot and the strainer. In Japan, they use special pots for brewing tea. Those come with a detachable strainer for ease of use.
The two most commonly used pots are the kyusu and the houhin.
The best part about using traditional Japanese teapots is that it allows the tea leaves to open up fully. This way, you’ll be getting the most out of each leaf.
The kyusu pot is made of clay, hence it has the capability of maintaining heat for a long time. That’s why it’s very important to be careful when steeping and adjusting the temperature.
We suggest that you shorten the time of steeping if you’re using this kind of pot. You might want to shorten the steeping time somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds.
This way you’ll get the best taste without the addition of any bitter taste.
The houhin pot is made of porcelain. This makes it ideal for the types of tea that require lower temperatures during the brewing process.
Since it’s made out of porcelain, it won’t be able to sustain the heat for a very long time. It may affect the steeping time.
It’s understandable that it might not be that easy to get a traditional pot. That’s when strainers come in handy.
You can simply brew your tea in a regular teapot and allow it to steep through strainers.
We find that the tea ball strainer is perfect to use. This way, you can boil the tea leaves and strain them with ease.
Although this process doesn’t open up the leaves fully, it still gives a great taste, especially if you were to double steep your tea.
Brewing Matcha Tea
We’ve dedicated this section to matcha tea since its preparation technique is quite different. Here’s how to do it.
The Standard Way (USUCHA)
- Sift the matcha carefully.
- Place 2 grams of the powder into a chawan bowl.
- Pour 70 ml of boiling water (170 degrees Fahrenheit) into the bowl.
- Using a chasen, whisk the mixture until it starts developing a nice foam.
- Drink within 3 minutes for the best taste.
If you drink this after 3 minutes, the foam will start to disappear and the powder will start to sit at the bottom of the cup.
The Ceremonious Way (KOICHA)
- Sift the matcha powder.
- Place 4 grams of matcha powder into the chawan bowl.
- Pour 50 ml of hot water (170 degrees Fahrenheit) into the bowl.
- Whisk until the mixture is combined.
This method you won’t develop foam like the other method. We still recommend that you drink it within 3 minutes so that the powder won’t sit at the bottom of the cup.