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    The Wild Guide To Matcha

    "No matter where you are in the world, you are at home when tea is served.”
    – Earlene Grey

    The word "matcha" means "ground tea" in Japanese. Matcha is made by slowly grinding the entire green tea leaf into a powder, which allows it to be easily added to a drink or food recipe.

    Compared to traditional green tea that uses water to extract nutrition from tea leaves, Matcha is "eaten" whole. By ingesting the entire tea leaf, you get far more nutrition than traditional green tea--Matcha is like drinking ten cups of brewed green tea!

    Matcha Requires Precise Production

    Once learning how Matcha is made, many assume you can take any green tea and grind it 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's simply no 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, while 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 the exposure to the sun, the tea leaves are constantly coaxed into developing more of the beneficial compounds, which results in developing more flavor and nutrition. Some of the best Matchas in the world are in near darkness by harvest time.

    Good Matcha requires tea plants that are at least 50 years old, with many in the 75-100-year-old range. In fact, 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 process that is very labor intensive.

    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.

    Rich Matcha Flavor and its Worth

    If you are a tea drinker who is new to Matcha, you might experience sticker shock when you first encounter the cost of premium matcha. This happens when people make the mistake of comparing the price of Matcha (a type of tea) to other loose-leaf types of tea.

    Of course, comparing Matcha to loose-leaf tea is like comparing oranges to apples.

    Matcha is similar to wine in that each wine is unique, and the quality is determined by a multitude of 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 distinctive product. And just like wine, you'll find good, bad, and average matchas. The color of Matcha is your first method of determining quality. Matcha should be as bright and grassy green as possible. Matcha that is brackish, 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 in quality you go, 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!

    Reaping the Benefits 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 you with vibrance, energy, and focus.

    Matcha is also a natural fat burner and metabolism stoker! Matcha contains the rare polyphenol ECGG, a thermogenic ingredient known to boost 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 that can last from 4 to 6 hours.

    The amino acid L-Theanine that is prevalent in Matcha helps the production of alpha brain waves, which makes it great for working and studying. Monks have used it for centuries to aid in meditation and prayer.

    Matcha is full of vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, chromium, and selenium, all of which promote overall health while fighting inflammation.

    Matcha is a natural detoxifier rich in chlorophyll and fiber. Chlorophyll is the green in plants and is a natural detoxifier that helps remove chemicals and heavy metals from the body.

    Understanding and Choosing Matcha Grades

    Matcha comes in various "grades" or "harvests." The challenge with assigning and understanding these grades is there is no regulation in labeling nor any set 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 realm of "culinary" Matcha.

    Harvest relates to the timeline in which the leaves are removed, usually by hand, in the tea-growing process. The leaves that are 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 use 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 matchas taste the best--and because they cost more--we recommend drinking them the traditional way 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 be able to 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, matcha lattes, and recipes.

    Prepare Matcha with the Right Tools

    After choosing the right Matcha for your purposes, you must set yourself up for success with the right tools and equipment. Matcha is incredibly fine, and it 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 a matcha wise 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, but this poses a couple of problems. First, wire whisks aren't capable of properly 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 chasen. Chasens are made from a single piece of bamboo and feature many springy tines. These tines have been specifically chosen and crafted for whisking Matcha into proper suspension. Instead of clumping, chasens will allow for the delightful frothing 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 too hot water over Matcha, you'll destroy all the beneficial nutrition in the Matcha. You'll also make it taste not very pleasant.

    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 properly, matcha tea can have a shelf-life of up to a year. Once the Matcha has been opened, however, it will lose its flavor and quality after one to two months. For this reason, those who only plan to enjoy Matcha on occasion 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 thwart any condensation from getting into your Matcha.

    Matcha Facts

     

    • 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 made of bamboo and called a "chashaku."
    • The hottest water you should ever use to make Matcha is 175°. Anything hotter will destroy the wonderful 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 Matcha

    There are hundreds of methods of making Matcha floating around the Internet. Some don't specify how much water to use, and some do. Some suggest you have to sieve your Matcha, and some don't. Some tell you to make a thick paste first before adding more water, and some add more water initially. Keep this in mind should you come across a method that looks slightly different than the Wild method I've shared below.

    Despite the many "options" out there, I can assure you that this particular method for preparing matcha results from testing the many techniques out there and refining the process to one that really works well. So, not only have I done the experimenting for you, but I've also figured out the most effective way to make Matcha while protecting Matcha's benefits.

    You see, the first and foremost consideration to us at Wild Foods is preserving the quality of the Matcha (or any ingredient).

    And as far as Matcha goes, if you are going to spend a healthy amount of money (pun intended) on a premium product such as Wild Matcha, you want to make sure you are getting every iota of nutrition out of it, am I right?

    After considering the preservation of Matcha's health benefits, I want to produce the best-tasting matcha experience possible. And lucky for us all, there's a way to make Matcha taste delicious while maintaining the ingredient's nutritional integrity.

    Let's look at how to do that.

    But first, there's a rule of Matcha that you should learn. It's this: Matcha is extremely sensitive to heat and light. Never pour boiling water over Matcha. (Or any green tea, for that matter.)

    Water that is too hot not only destroys the delicate health benefits of your matcha powder but also fails to bring out the best umami flavor. This is a huge mistake because that flavor is the best part of the matcha flavor experience, and overheating your tea will not only get rid of that taste, but it will turn your beautiful Matcha into a cup of liquid bitterness. This is why we recommend a maximum water temperature of 175°, with 165° being the ideal temperature for preparing Matcha.

    Another thing I see lacking in matcha recipes around the world wide web is exact measurements. I like precise measurements. I want to know, by weight, how much of an ingredient I should be using. This probably comes from my coffee and espresso disciplines, but our method requires a scale and a thermometer to get everything just right. These are essential kitchen tools, and you should invest in each.

    The last point I want to make about preparing Matcha relates to cold water. Some Japanese tea masters only use cold water to prepare their Matcha because they feel it brings out the best umami flavor. We will use a hybrid of this recommendation to make our Matcha.

    Using cold water in the initial water pour is not just for umami; it's also for protecting the Matcha from the hot water you will use to finish the drink. I'm not going to take credit for this technique, and I don't remember where I read it initially, but I do remember it making so much sense to me that I knew I was going to use this step in my matcha method from then on.

    Without further ado, let's make some Wild Matcha!

    How To Make Matcha Tea

    Looking for a tried-and-true method for making authentic, flavorful, healthy matcha tea? This is it!

    Ratio used: 1.5g matcha (~1/2 tsp) to 4 ounces of water (113g)

    Need:

    • Premium matcha meant for drinking - Wild Matcha
    • Bowl
    • Bamboo Whisk or Handheld frother
    • TSP or matcha chashaku ladle
    • 6 ounces 165° filtered water
    • Optional: small wire sieve

    Process:

    1. Pour 2 ounces of hot water into your bowl to preheat for a minute.
    2. Discard water and wipe dry
    3. Place bowl on scale and tare
    4. Add 1.5g matcha - about 1 and a half chashaku ladle scoops
    5. Choose: Sift Matcha through a sieve into a bowl or take a bamboo whisk or frother and gently flatten out the Matcha. You want to remove clumps.
    6. Pour 1 ounce (28g) cold water over Matcha (This helps protect the Matcha from the hot water in step 7)
    7. Use your whisk in a circular motion to make a thick paste.
    8. After all Matcha is incorporated, add 3 ounces of 165° water.
    9. 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 make sure you don't spill any precious matcha.
    10. Whisk until frothy, and you have a nice white crema with small bubbles.
    11. It is now ready to drink! You can stir in some honey or preferred sweetener or add steamed milk for a matcha latte. You can also add more water to increase the yield (it will dilute) or can finish with cream or frothed milk.

    matcha green tea recipe

     

    Our Favorite Matcha Smoothie

    Base Ingredients:

     

    • 1 Cup Preferred ​Milk - Almond, Cashew, Coconut, Cow's, Sheep's (Can replace this with 1 Cup iced Wild Coffee)
    • 1 Banana
    • 1/4 Cup Filtered ​Water
    • 1 TSP Wild Matcha
    • 1/2 Cup Ice ​Cubes

     

    Optional Ingredients (get creative):

     

     

    Sweeten:

     

    • Stevia - a pinch or two
    • Honey - 1-2 TBSP
    • Xylitol - 1-3 TSP
    • Coconut Sugar - 1-3 TSP

     

    Process:

     

    1. ​Blend all ingredients other than matcha (and other than whey if you are using it)
    2. ​After 60 seconds, stop blender and add matcha (and whey)
    3. ​Blend on slow speed to mix in matcha (avoid high speeds to avoid damaging matcha)
    4. ​Pour matcha smoothie over ice in a large mason jar
    5. ​Enjoy!

     

    The Matcha Latte

    There are many ways to prepare Matcha traditionally, and a matcha latte is no different.
    As with most recipes, the final product is going to depend heavily on the ingredients used. Instead of offering one recipe and saying, "this is the one," I'd much rather offer a few recipes that you can experiment with. I've tried all of these and have found them all to be delightful and successful, so it will really come down to your personal preference.

    Try each one of these and choose which one works for you. Then add your own spin to it and adjust ratios and ingredients until you find the perfect recipe. The three things you'll need to remember when experimenting are to make sure you're using quality matcha, to use the right tools, and to avoid temperature extremes.

    How To Make A Matcha Latte

    Need:

     

    • 1 Cup preferred milk - Almond, Cashew, Coconut, Cow's
    • 1/4 cup filtered water
    • 1 TSP Wild Matcha

     

    Sweeten:

     

    • Honey - 1-2 TSP
    • Xylitol - 1-2 TSP
    • Coconut Sugar - 1-2 TSP
    • Maple Syrup - 2 TSP

     

    Process:

     

    1. ​Bring milk to near simmer over medium-low heat
    2. ​Add 175° filtered water and preferred sweetener to separate bowl and stir to dissolve
    3. ​Using a sieve, sift Matcha into bowl and whisk until it is incorporated with the sweetened water
    4. ​Pour in frothed/steamed milk
    5. ​Enjoy

    Matcha Latte #2

    Need:

     

    • 1/4 cup 160°-170° water (the cooler the water the more umami you draw out)
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)
    • 1 TSP Wild Matcha
    • 1 TSP preferred sweetener

     

    Process:

     

    1. Sift matcha into bowl
    2. Whisk in 1 TBSP cold water to form paste
    3. ​Add 1/4 cup hot water and whisk
    4. ​Whisk in coconut milk and sweetener
    5. ​Enjoy!

     

    Matcha Latte #3

    Need:

     

    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
    • 1/2 cup almond or cashew milk
    • 1 TSP Wild Matcha
    • 1 TSP Wild MCT Oil
    • 1-2 TSP preferred sweetener
    • Ice

     

    Process:

     

    1. ​Sift matcha into bowl or mason jar
    2. ​Whisk in 1 TBSP cold water to form paste
    3. ​Add preferred sweetener and stir
    4. ​Add Coconut milk, nut milk, Wild MCT and ice
    5. ​Stir or Shake until combined
    6. ​Enjoy!

     

    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, which is why I burn my tongue each and every time a tasty hot brew is sitting in front of me. Then, when the drink is cool enough to drink, I can't even 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, as you might guess, a cup full of ice is my favorite way to start a beverage. Most of the time, this ends up being 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 a smooth cold brew matcha.


    There are two versions of iced Wild Matcha I often use, 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 Make Cold Brew Matcha

    ​Need:

     

    • Mason Jar/Lid - Shaker Bottle full of ice
    • 1 TSP Wild Matcha
    • 12oz Cold Filtered Water
    • Optional: Lemon
    • Optional: Preferred Sweetener

     

    Process:

     

    1. Add all ingredients to container
    2. Shake
    3. Enjoy!
    Cold Brew Matcha #2

    Need:

     

    • Mason Jar/Lid - Shaker Bottle full of ice
    • 1 TSP Wild Matcha
    • 4 oz Cold Filtered Water
    • 1 cup Preferred Milk - Almond, Coconut, Cow’s, Sheep’s
    • Optional: Preferred Sweetener

     

    Process:

     

    1. Add 1 ounce water to jar
    2. Add matcha to jar and swirl jar
    3. Add preferred sweetener and swirl jar
    4. Add rest of water, add lid and shake
    5. Pour milk over and swirl to combine
    6. Enjoy!

    *Optional ingredients for customizing your Cold Brew Wild Matcha include: Wild Vanilla Powder, Wild Chocolate, Wild Whey

    "You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me."
    — C.S. Lewis

    Although Matcha, or "ground tea" may seem like a very simple concept, it is a flavorful experience like no other. 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 that you can prepare a spectacular drink that's perfect for any day.

    Whether you need a lift of spirits and energy for the work day ahead or you simply want to curl up with a good book and enjoy something delightful, matcha tea is the answer.

    Drink up and enjoy!