How to make matcha taste good is a question we are often asked. Because there are so many different strategies you can use to make a better tasting bowl of matcha, we decided we would put them all together in one big list.
So how to make matcha taste good?
Have you ever made a bowl of ceremonial matcha that didn’t taste so great, even though you were following the brewing guidelines?
Some matcha green tea powder just don't taste that great. Regardless is it because you really cannot get used to the taste, or the quality of the tea might not be as expected, or maybe it’s past expiry date.
Whichever the reasons, you may enhance the flavor and make every matcha taste better. Get ready to channel your inner tea master with this guide on how to make matcha taste good.
Start with Ceremonial Matcha, not Cooking grade Matcha
The most important thing when it comes to how to make matcha taste good is to go for the first harvest, ceremonial grade matcha. Matcha green tea latte can be great if you are combining the tea with oat milk, but if you are drinking it plain with water, you really want to go for the good stuff.
For first time matcha drinkers, we recommend to go for an Okumidori matcha like the noike matcha. While most matcha teas are made from the Yabukita cultivar, this tea can be a little bitter for first time tea drinkers. Thats why we recommend you go for the much smoother, Okumidori cultivar.
The Okumidori cultivar tends to be more difficult to produce, so it’s really reserved for premium matcha and Gyokuro. While most Okumidori matchas are quite expensive, we found a small farmer outside of Kyoto that produces a really great one for an affordable price which is perfect for beginners. The Noike matcha is smoother and less bitter than most matchas, while still maintaining a reasonable price tag. This is a great one to start with if you plan on drinking the matcha plain.
Ceremonial grade matcha
Ceremonial grade matcha is matcha that is intended to be consumed plain, without any sweetener. If you are wondering how to make matcha taste good, the most important thing is to choose a matcha like this. This matcha has a natural sweetness to it, which is perfected during a long and careful production process. It is possible to turn good powder into bad matcha tea, but it is not possible to turn bad powder into good matcha tea so make sure you start out with the good stuff.
Latte grade matcha
Latte grade matcha is the next step after ceremonial grade matcha. During the production of this matcha tea, certain steps from the ceremonial grade matcha production process are skipped. As an example, a later harvest of tea leaves might be used, so the flavor is slightly more bitter and the nutrient content is slightly lower. This is no problem if you are planning on preparing matcha lattes, as you will be adding milk and sugar to the tea. Even though this is seen as a lower quality matcha, it is still important to get matcha grown without the use of pesticides. This is why all of the matchas we offer are organically grown, even the ones intended for lattes.
If you are trying to figure out how to make matcha taste good plain, you will have to go for a ceremonial matcha. If you plan on adding milk and sugar to it, the latte grade matcha is fine!
Cooking grade matcha
Cooking grade matcha or culinary matcha as it’s also called is the lowest tier on the matcha totem pole. This matcha will be made from later harvests, older leaves and it may include stems as well. The tea will be extremely bitter if you try to drink it plain, so it is really only acceptable if you plan on adding a lot of other ingredients. This is exactly what you end up doing when you bake things like matcha brownies or matcha cookies, so this culinary matcha is suitable for things like that. When you are baking, you also end up going through a lot of matcha powder, so you will want to choose an inexpensive one.
Always sift and break the clumps
The second tip when it comes to how to make matcha taste good is to sift the powder. This may seem like a small detail, but it can actually make a big difference. Matcha powder is very sensitive to humidity, so as soon as it is opened up it will begin to form these clumps.
While these clumps don’t impact the integrity of the matcha, they don’t mix well into the water and it can make the drinking experience less enjoyable. You want the powder to be mixed evenly into the water, so each sip has the same consistency. The easy way to fix this is to just run the powder through a sifter right before you prepare your bowl of tea. This will give you a nice fine powder at the bottom of the bowl and allow you to mix the tea much more easily.
Use less water
The third tip in our guide on how to make matcha taste good is to use a higher ratio of matcha powder to water. Just like when you are preparing leaf tea, you want the bowl of matcha to be very concentrated in its flavor. We typically recommend going for 2 grams of powder and 100 ml of water, but you can always add more water later if the taste is too strong.
This high ratio of powder to water is also important when it comes to creating the foam on top, but thats something we’ll discuss a bit later. The important thing for now is that you use 2 grams of powder, 100ml of water and a temperature of between 160-175 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that you have a great tasting matcha that doesn’t taste too watered down.
Lower water temperature
Although matcha is less sensitive to water temperature compared to loose leaf tea, it still works best in a range between 160-175 degrees fahrenheit. If the water temperature is too high, the matcha will become very bitter. This is one of the reasons why many people find matcha to be extremely bitter. If you use boiling water, you will extract more of the catechins from the matcha particles and create a more bitter tea. Because of all this, the key to how to make matcha taste good is to use a lower temperature water.
Use the proper whisk
The next way how to make matcha taste good is to use the matcha whisk or Chasen. This is the tool used during the Japanese tea ceremony, and although it is hundreds of years old, it still is the best tool for making these beautiful foamy bowls of matcha.
The whisk is made out of a single piece of bamboo, and the 100 bristles move through the water to aerate the tea, creating a nice foam on the top. This foam not only makes the tea look nice, it also gives it a smoother and creamier taste. If you don’t have one of these at home, the next best thing is to use a milk frother. If you don’t have either of these tools at home, the last resort is to shake the tea up in a jar to mix it.
This does a good job at creating foam, but the downside is the matcha doesn’t mix as easily and it can form clumps that may throw off your drinking experience. It’s best just to get the bamboo tea whisk and start practicing the whisking technique. Once you get good enough, you can invite friends over to host your own tea ceremony.
Use the proper bowl
Another tip is to make sure you prepare your matcha in a matcha bowl. We sometimes see people whisking up their matcha in a glass, but this can be quite difficult because the glass doesn’t allow as much space. The best solution is to whisk your tea in a bowl, you have plenty of room to whisk the tea in these broader, zigzag motions.
If you really want to get serious about matcha tea, you can go for the chawan or tea bowl. This is the clay bowl used in the tea ceremony, and it has a few different benefits. First off, the sides of the bowl are higher, so there’s less of a chance to spill the tea as you’re mixing it.
Also, the heavy clay retains heat better, so you can keep your matcha warmer for longer. In the tea ceremony, they will preheat this clay bowl beforehand so it doesn’t take any heat away from the matcha. On a cold day, it can be nice to hold something warm like this while you sip your tea, which is another benefit of the chawan and it gets us one step closer to answering the question how to make matcha taste good.
Whisk in a M and W shape but don't stir
The proper technique is very important when it comes to making matcha taste good.
When you see a matcha prepared by an expert, you will notice a beautiful light green foam on top, which gives the tea a smoother and creamier texture.
This is perfected through proper whisking technique, and if you want to make your own foam, you want to move the whisk in rapid zigzag motions using your wrist.
This will take some time to perfect, but once you get good at it you should be able to get the top foam down in a matter of seconds.
Be cautious while flavoring matcha
In general, it is recommended that you don’t add any sort of flavor to your matcha. Matcha has a very strong flavor to it and it can clash with many additives. If you were to use cocoa powder on your matcha for example, the flavors would really not work well together.
If you really have to add something to your matcha tea (which we recommend you dont) use something sweet and neutral like white chocolate and eat it on the side. This will help to smooth out the bitterness, without conflicting with the flavor of the tea.
Be careful with sweetening matcha
Some people may want to give up on how to make matcha taste good and just load it up with sugar. This defeats the point of drinking the matcha tea, and you really miss out on a lot of the unique flavors. Matcha has a very subtle natural sweetness to it and a fresh vegetal astringency. A lot of this nuance is lost as soon as you add sugar.
Even if you are drinking matcha for the health benefits and not the taste, a lot of those are canceled out by the sugar as well, so it is best to simply avoid it.
Of course this guide to how to make matcha taste good would not be complete without some mention of practice. This not only pertains to the whisking of the tea, but also everything else as well. After much experimentation, you will start to learn what works and what doesn’t. Of course you will fail a lot along the way, but that is part of the journey! Given enough time, you should be able to make your own matcha bowls just like a pro, and you won’t even have to put much thought into it.
What are the steps to make matcha taste good
There are two different styles of matcha preparation, both of which can be used in the Japanese tea ceremony. The first is more common and that is usucha or thin tea. The second is used in special tea ceremonies and that is koicha or thick matcha. Once you master these two styles of preparation, you can start to add in some of the tips you learned on how to make matcha taste good.
How to Prepare Usucha ("thin tea")
- Step 1: Place the sifter on top of a bowl
- Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of matcha to the sifter
- Step 3: Push the powder through the sifter to get rid of the clumps
- Step 4: Add just enough water to the bowl to form a paste (this makes it even easier to make sure there are no clumps)
- Step 5: Add 2oz of water to the bowl (85 degrees C)
- Step 6: Whisk the tea. Start by clearing off the sides and then whisk to create a foam.
How to Prepare Koicha ("thick tea")
- Step 1: Place the sifter on top of a bowl
- Step 2: Add 2 teaspoons of matcha to the sifter
- Step 3: Push the powder through the sifter to get rid of the clumps
- Step 4: Add 2oz of water to the bowl (85 degrees C)
- Step 5: Mix the powder and water together in the bowl until a thick paste is created. Make sure you completely scrape of the sides of the bowl.
- Step 6: Drink the matcha paste
Choosing a Matcha
After traveling around Japan for the past few years, we’ve met dozens of different tea farmers and sampled hundreds of different matcha teas. We came up with a list of our 21 favorite matcha teas and put them together into our matcha tea sampler. These teas are made in different regions, by different farmers and from different tea plant varietals. If you really want to take a deep dive and expand your palate for matcha, this is the place to do it.
I hope you have all enjoyed this article on how to make matcha taste good. Hopefully now you have all you need to start recreating your own tea ceremonies at home. If you have any matcha questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until then, we’ll see you next time.