At this point, it’s likely you’ve successfully mastered your morning coffee routine, perhaps with help from guides like this one. But, if your regular coffee shop indulgence was matcha — which is now ubiquitous at a certain kind of hip coffee shop — you may still be missing out.
Brewing matcha requires a bit more work than brewing tea leaves that steep in water, and the brewing process calls for its own specific set of tools — chiefly a bowl and a whisk for fully emulsifying the powdered tea into water. Making matcha without the right equipment will lead to clumps of powdery tea and disappointment. “Using a fork will not give you good results at all,” says Eater Young Gun Elias Majid (’17), founder of Detroit tea shop Eli Tea. There, Majid sells and serves tea of all kinds — loose leaf, bubble tea, cheese tea, and, of course, matcha. Here are his recommendations for the most essential matcha tools, along with a few extras to make your cup even better.
The matcha whisk, or chasen, may be the most essential tool for making matcha. This whisk, made from a single cut of bamboo, incorporates the powdered tea into liquid so that there are no clumps and a light froth. Majid says there’s no one best Matcha whisk out there. “In Japan the quality is based on the number of bristles so it could have 40 to 100,” explains Majid. “That’s the traditional way we do it in store just because it’s so consistent.” The matcha whisk Majid sells at Eli Tea has 50 bristles, but they’re also available at Japanese tea shops alone or in sets that include matcha bowls and ladles.
Majid notes that if a traditional matcha whisk isn’t an option for some reason, an electric milk frother, like the Bodum Schiuma milk frother sold at Crate and Barrel, will create similar results.
Bamboo matcha whisks are low maintenance — they’re naturally antiseptic and can be easily cleaned with warm water. But whisks may lose their shape over time, so Majid recommends drying and storing whisks on a ceramic whisk keeper. Whisk keepers are specifically designed to maintain matcha whisks’ curved shape, making them last longer.
A traditional matcha bowl is a simple, deep bowl around 5 inches in diameter and is used as both preparation and serving vessel. Majid likes the Japanese-made options available on Japanese homegoods store Miya. But, he notes that Etsy is a great source for more locally made options, including bowls that offer a twist on the traditional shape. “The traditional bowl is just a bowl,” he says, “but what we use and what’s been popping up around the market is bowls that have a pour lip on it that make it easier to pour.” This style may work best if you plan to pour the matcha into a cup or mug to make a latte or other specialty drink. There are several ceramic studios on Etsy that sell the style, called katakuchi, in a variety of finishes.
To get the smoothest matcha, a tea strainer comes in handy. You can use it to sift the matcha powder into the bowl before whisking or after as “a filter so you can strain out the gunk,” Majid says. He prefers this tea strainer from Japanese tea company Ippodo that can also be used as a strainer for your loose-leaf tea.
Glass Tea bottle
These days, cold matcha might sound more appealing than the alternative, and according to Majid, the easiest way to brew iced matcha is with a tea infuser bottle. “The other way people underestimate doing matcha is with tea thermoses,” he says. “Because of the strainer, you add the matcha and the water and once you shake it up, it naturally dissolves the matcha powder.” For this method, you don’t even need a whisk, and you can then put the thermos right in the fridge for cold matcha you can take on the go, almost as if you picked it up from your local tea or coffee shop.