Matcha 101 – What It Is and How to Use It

I love starting my day with a steaming cup of matcha green tea. Read on to learn how to make this energizing, antioxidant-packed drink at home!

Matcha green tea

A few years ago, matcha started popping up everywhere – in lattes, ice cream, smoothies, icing, and more. While I’ll never say no to a matcha doughnut, today I want to focus on the simplest way to enjoy it: by whisking it into hot water to create a frothy, nourishing tea. I’ve loved drinking matcha this way since Jack and I took our first trip to Japan years ago, and I still make myself a cup almost every morning. To me, it’s the perfect way to start the day. It’s energizing and calming both at once, and above all else, it’s delicious.

What is Matcha?

If you’re not familiar with matcha, it’s a Japanese green tea powder made from finely powdered dried tea leaves. It has a slightly bitter, vegetal taste and a vibrant green color that results from the leaves’ high chlorophyll levels. It’s been the cornerstone of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries, but it recently became popular in the US because of its health benefits.

Regular green tea is already touted as an antioxidant powerhouse, but matcha has even more benefits. Here’s why: when you make other forms of green tea, you steep the leaves in hot water and then discard them. When you make matcha, you whisk the powder into hot water or milk. As a result, you actually consume the entire tea leaf when you drink it! The antioxidants it contains may lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and even boost your metabolism.

So what about caffeine? Well, matcha does contain more caffeine than regular green tea, but it doesn’t give you a buzzy rush like coffee. It leaves me feeling energized and focused, but still calm.

Matcha powder in a sifter

Helpful Tips

  • Not all matcha is created equal. Buying matcha for the first time can be confusing – there are so many brands, and they vary widely in quality. I always advocate looking for one with no added sugar. Beyond that, the most significant distinction is between ceremonial and culinary grade matcha. The ceremonial kind will be pricier – it’s made from the youngest tea leaves and has a mellow flavor. Choose it if you plan to drink your matcha with just water. I like the Ippodo and Jade Leaf brands. Otherwise, less expensive culinary matcha should do the trick. Its flavor is more bitter, which balances well in lattes or desserts. My go-to choice is Aiya – it’s great quality, but it’s still affordable.
  • It doesn’t last forever. Matcha doesn’t have a particularly long shelf life. Once you open it, use it within 2 months for the best color and flavor. I recommend buying it in small quantities and storing it in the fridge to preserve freshness.
  • You might want a matcha whisk. If you make matcha often, I recommend investing in a bamboo whisk called a chasen (pictured here). Its special design breaks up clumps and creates a frothy layer of foam on top of the tea. If you don’t have one, use a regular whisk or an electric milk frother instead. Whisking or stirring with a fork or spoon will not work here.
  • Sweeten to taste. Matcha’s grassy, umami flavor can be an acquired taste. If you’re new to making it, don’t hesitate to add a few drops of maple syrup or honey. You also might want to sweeten your tea if your matcha powder is particularly bitter.

Pouring hot water over matcha green tea

How to Make Matcha Green Tea

You’ll find my full matcha green tea recipe and measurements below, but because there are a few tricks to making matcha, I wanted to break it down step by step. Here’s what you need to do:

First, sift it into a small bowl or mug. Matcha clumps very easily, so I always recommend sifting it before you add any water. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get the tea to disperse evenly in the liquid, and your drink will be lumpy.

Whisking matcha tea

Then, pour in a small amount of hot water, and whisk. But wait! This isn’t the circular whisking required for making baking recipes or scrambled eggs. Instead, whisk vigorously from side to side – either directly back and forth or in a zigzag pattern – to evenly disperse the powder in the water and create a foamy layer on top. If you whisk in a circular motion, your tea won’t foam.

How to make matcha tea

Finally, top it off with more hot water or steamed milk. Traditional matcha green tea is made with just green tea powder and water, but you can also easily make a latte by finishing your drink with steamed milk. I love to make mine with almond milk, coconut milk, or homemade oat milk. Whisk again until foamy, sweeten to taste, and enjoy!

Matcha green tea

How to Make Matcha

rate this recipe:
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Serves 1
Learn how to make matcha green tea at home! I typically enjoy my matcha tea without sweetener, but matcha brands vary in bitterness. If you're new to making matcha, or if your tea tastes bitter, add a few drops of maple syrup or honey to sweeten it to your liking.

Ingredients

  • ¼ teaspoon matcha
  • 2 ounces boiling water
  • 6 ounces additional boiling water or steamed milk of choice, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, dairy milk, etc.
  • Maple syrup, honey, or other sweetener, optional

Instructions

  • Sift the matcha into a mug or small bowl to get rid of any lumps.
  • Pour in the 2 ounces boiling water. Using a matcha whisk or small regular whisk, whisk briskly from side to side until the matcha is fully dispersed and there is a foamy layer on top.
  • Add the remaining 6 ounces boiling water or steamed milk and whisk again until foamy. Sweeten to taste, if desired.

6 comments

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  1. Sascha
    04.18.2020

    Hi there!

    Where did you get that small flower plate? I’ts so cute!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.18.2020

      Hi Sascha, I got it in Japan 🙂

  2. Debbie
    04.18.2020

    I clicked on aiya as I am looking for a new brand but the ratings were not good

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.18.2020

      Hi Debbie, I can’t speak to the ratings, but I’ve personally enjoyed their matcha for years.

  3. Rashmi
    04.21.2020

    5 stars
    Looks good. Thanks for the recipe.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.