The Wild Guide To Matcha
"No matter where you are in the world, you are at home when tea is served.” —Earlene Grey
In Japan, the word "matcha" means "ground tea." Matcha is made by slowly grinding the whole green tea leaf into a powder. This makes it easy to add to a drink or recipe.
Unlike traditional green tea, which uses water to get the nutrients out of the tea leaves, Matcha is "eaten" as a whole. Eating whole tea leaves gives you much more nutrients than regular green tea. Matcha is like drinking ten cups of green tea.
How Matcha is made
Once learning how Matcha is made, many assume you can grind any green tea into a matcha powder, but that's not the case. Matcha is specialty grown and requires a specific climate, plenty of labor, and an expert farmer.
This is why the best matchas in the world are always expensive; there simply needs to be a way to produce good Matcha cheaply.
A few weeks before harvest, tea plants are covered in the shade. This causes the tea leaves to increase their chlorophyll and amino acid content. Glutamate molecules are concentrated, which increases the umami flavor profile.
Some matchas are introduced into a set level of shade for the last few weeks before harvest. In contrast, other matchas, almost always of higher quality, are introduced to more shade on a gradual basis leading up to the final harvest.
By gradually reducing exposure to the sun, the tea leaves are constantly coaxed into developing more beneficial compounds, which results in more flavor and nutrition. Some of the best matchas in the world are in near darkness by harvest time.
Good Matcha requires tea plants at least 50, with many in the 75-100-year-old range. The farm where Wild Matcha grows has been growing Matcha for 109 years!
Once the leaves are picked during a harvest, they are preserved through steaming before drying. After the leaves are dried, they are sorted into grades. The smallest, greenest leaves end up with the highest rating. Next, the leaves must be de-stemmed and deveined--a very labor-intensive process.
All de-stemmed and deveined matcha tea leaves that make it through this process are now called "tencha." Tencha is kept refrigerated until the grinding process.
Tencha is ground using granite wheels that rotate slowly to avoid burning the tea leaves. The ground matcha is then ready for sale. It takes about an hour to grind only 30 grams of Matcha.
Of course, comparing Matcha to loose-leaf tea is like comparing apples to oranges.
Matcha is similar to wine in that each wine is unique. The quality is determined by many variables, including terroir--the conditions of local climate and soil--crop quality, and attention to processing and growing methods.
Like wine, a matcha producer will produce a unique product. And just like wine, you'll find good, bad, and average matcha. The color of Matcha is your first method of determining quality. Matcha should be as bright and grassy green as possible. Matcha that is salty, dark green, and in some cases brown is usually going to taste exactly how it looks; bitter and yucky.
Next comes taste. Good Matcha will have a sweet grassy profile with an absence of bitterness. The lower your quality, the more you will get a bitter, astringent flavor profile and a lack of sweetness. Not only does bright green Matcha taste better, but it also includes more amino acid and antioxidant content.
It takes about an hour to grind only 30 grams of matcha!
Drinking one cup of Matcha allows you to reap the benefits of 10 cups of green tea - without a caffeine overload. Although matcha tea is caffeinated, it doesn't leave the consumer feeling shaky or buzzed. Instead, a single serving provides vibrance, energy, and focus.
Matcha is also a natural fat burner and metabolism stoker! Matcha contains the rare polyphenol ECGG, a thermogenic ingredient that boosts metabolism.
Matcha is a natural mood and energy enhancer.
With ~35mg of caffeine per cup (espresso is ~60mg), the caffeine in Matcha is unique because it releases into the bloodstream slowly, providing a sustained release of energy lasting from 4 to 6 hours.
The amino acid l-theanine prevalent in Matcha helps the production of alpha brain waves, making it great for working and studying. Monks have used it for centuries to aid in meditation and prayer.
Matcha contains vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, chromium, and selenium, promoting overall health while fighting inflammation.
Matcha is a natural detoxifier rich in chlorophyll and fiber. Chlorophyll is green in plants and is a natural detoxifier that helps remove chemicals and heavy metals from the body.
Grades of Matcha
Matcha comes in various "grades" or "harvests." The challenge with assigning and understanding these grades is that there needs to be a labeling regulations and guidelines for grades.
Typically, a "1st harvest" is a "ceremonial" grade and is considered the highest quality grade of matcha.
Next usually comes a "2nd harvest" and sometimes a third--at which point you start getting into the "culinary" matcha realm.
Harvest relates to the timeline in which the leaves are removed, usually by hand, in the tea-growing process. The leaves harvested first (first flush) are considered the best tasting and usually consist of the small and delicate leaves picked from the tips of a leaf shoot.
It's best to sort matcha by grades.
Typically, the highest grades are best saved for tea ceremonies. For Westerners, this means drinking the tea straight with hot water. Because the highest quality matcha tastes the best and costs more, we recommend drinking them traditionally and not for baking or other recipes that mask the matcha's flavor.
There's no reason to use ceremonial-grade matcha for making a matcha smoothie when you won't decipher the higher-quality flavor profile anyway. Reserve the highest quality matcha for simple, pure pleasure.
For baking and making matcha recipes that include sweetener or other ingredients such as cream or milk, it's best to use culinary-grade matcha.
You can still savor the taste and benefits of matcha without wasting the finest matcha in the process. We recommend our Wild Matcha matcha for smoothies, lattes, and recipes.
How To Prepare Matcha
After choosing the right matcha for your purposes, you must set yourself up for success with the right tools and equipment.
Matcha tends to clump easily. Fortunately, this can be prevented with the right gear.
We recommend gently pressing the matcha through a fine sieve or using a very fine sifter before adding water to your bowl or mug.
Another great option is to use matcha powder to stir and sift it.
Please note that you must use a matcha whisk in this process. Many Westerners are tempted to use wire whisks, which poses some problems.
Wire whisks must be more capable of adequately stirring the superfine matcha powder, and you may still end up with clumps. Secondly, wire whisks can damage your bowl or mug.
A matcha whisk is called a chase. Chasens are made from a single piece of bamboo and feature many springy tines. The small bamboo tines were chosen and made to whisk matcha into the right consistency. Instead of clumping, chasers will allow for the delightful foaming of your matcha, allowing you to enjoy a smooth, therapeutic, healing drink.
For best results, vigorously whisk the matcha tea in a W-shaped pattern.
he small bamboo tines were chosen and made to whisk matcha into the right consistency.
Instead of clumping, chasers will allow for the delightful foaming of your matcha, allowing you to enjoy a smooth, therapeutic, healing drink. For best results, vigorously whisk the matcha tea in a W-shaped pattern.
The Correct Temperature for Matcha
First things first, never add boiling water to your matcha!
If you pour hot water over matcha, you'll destroy all the beneficial nutrition in the matcha. You'll also make it taste unpleasant.
We recommend water that is 165° - 175°.
Use a thermometer, remove your boiling water from the heat, and sit for at least three minutes.
Another way to protect your matcha from being damaged by hot water is to use cold water to make the initial matcha paste called for in traditional preparation. The cold water helps temper the hot water that will be added later.
Check out my recipes below to get information on determining the right temperature for properly preparing iced matcha tea.
Proper Matcha Storage
Matcha is very sensitive to heat, moisture, and light.
We recommend you store matcha in a dark container in a cool, dry place if you use it often.
Unopened and stored correctly, matcha tea can have a shelf-life of up to a year.
Once the matcha has been opened, it will lose its flavor and quality after one to two months.
For this reason, those who only plan to enjoy matcha occasionally should store it in the freezer, sealed inside a ziplock bag or other airtight container.
Then, before opening, let the bag come to room temperature to prevent condensation from getting into your matcha.
- It takes an hour to stone-grind 30g of Matcha (that's 1.05 ounces!)
- A teaspoon of Matcha is ~2.5 grams
- We recommend 1.5g (~1/2 TSP) to 4 ounces of water for preparing traditional Matcha
- The ladle scoop used in a traditional matcha set is bamboo and called a "chashaku."
- The hottest water you should ever use to make Matcha is 175°. Anything hotter will destroy the fantastic nutrition in the Matcha!
- L-theanine stimulates alpha brain waves, which induces a state of alertness. L-theanine is abundant in Matcha
- A cup of Matcha contains about half the amount of caffeine that a cup of espresso does (65mg), but that caffeine is released slowly compared to coffee, making the benefit seem longer lasting
How To Make Traditional Green Tea Match
- Premium matcha meant for drinking - Wild Matcha
- Bamboo Whisk or Handheld frother
- TSP or matcha chashaku ladle
- 6 ounces 165° filtered water
- Optional: small wire sieve
- Pour 2 ounces of hot water into your bowl to preheat for a minute.
- Discard water and wipe dry.
- Place bowl on scale and tare
- Add 1.5g matcha - about one and a half chashaku ladle scoops.
- Choose: Sift Matcha through a sieve into a bowl, take a bamboo whisk or frother, and gently flatten out the Matcha. You want to remove clumps.
- Pour 1 ounce (28g) of cold water over Matcha (This helps protect the Matcha from the hot water in step 7)
- Use your whisk in a circular motion to make a thick paste.
- After all, Matcha is incorporated, add 3 ounces of 165° water.
- If using a bamboo whisk: whisk Matcha using a "W" and "M" path up and down utilizing your wrist. If using an electric frother: place it at the bottom of the bowl and start with short pulses to ensure you don't spill any precious matcha.
- Whisk until frothy and have a nice white crema with tiny bubbles.
- It is now ready to drink! You can stir in honey or preferred sweetener or add steamed milk for a matcha latte. You can add more water to increase the yield (it will dilute) or finish with a cream or frothed milk.
1 Cup Preferred Milk - Almond, Cashew, Coconut, Cow's, Sheep's (Can replace this with 1 Cup iced Wild Coffee)
1/4 Cup Filtered Water
1 TSP Wild Matcha
1/2 Cup Ice Cubes
Optional Ingredients (get creative):
1/2 cup yogurt
1-2 TBSP Wild MCT Oil
1-2 TBSP Coconut Oil
1-2 TSP Wild Chocolate Powder
1/2 TSP Wild Vanilla Powder
1-2 TSP Wild Cocoa Butter
1-2 TSP Wild Sweet Nibs
1 Scoop Wild Whey
1/2 TSP Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Berries
1-2 TBSP Nut Butter
Stevia - a pinch or two
Honey - 1-2 TBSP
Xylitol - 1-3 TSP
Coconut Sugar - 1-3 TSP
1. Blend all ingredients other than matcha (and other than whey if you are using it)
Matcha Latte #2
Matcha Latte #3
Cold Brew Matcha
I love cold drinks.
Over the years, I've had time to ponder why this is. The conclusion I've come to is this: I'm too impatient to wait for hot drinks to cool, so I burn my tongue every time a tasty hot brew sits in front of me.
Then, when the drink is cool enough, I can't taste the thing because my taste buds are scorched.
Naturally, then, iced drinks resolve this problem! I get to start sipping and enjoying immediately, and there's no risk of injury! Plus, it doesn't overheat me on a muggy summer day.
As I said, I've had time to figure this out.
I like my drinks colder than the North Pole. So, a cup full of ice is my favorite way to start a beverage. Most of the time, this is a frosty Wild Cold Brew in a mason jar. But this can be easily overdone, which I've learned the hard way.
That's when I turn to smooth cold brew matcha.
I often use two versions of iced Wild Matcha, interchanging each depending on the mood. The first version is iced Matcha in its purest form; just ice, water, and Matcha.
The second method is similar to a traditional cold brew coffee; cream or milk, ice, and Matcha.
I often use two versions of iced Wild Matcha, interchanging each depending on the mood.
The first version is iced Matcha in its purest form; just ice, water, and Matcha. The second method is similar to a traditional cold brew coffee; cream or milk, ice, and Matcha.
How To Cold Brew Matcha #1
How To Cold Brew Matcha #2
Although matcha, or "ground tea," may seem straightforward, it is a flavorful experience. This Japanese tradition is smooth, rich, and offers health benefits that will improve your overall quality of life.
When you've got the right tools and the best quality matcha, there are nearly limitless ways to prepare a spectacular drink that's perfect for any day.
Whether you need a lift in spirits and energy for the workday ahead or want to curl up with a good book and enjoy something delightful, matcha tea is the answer.
Drink up and enjoy!