Matcha is more than just a beverage. Every sip is part of the experience, awakening all your senses and taking you on a unique journey.
Whether you’ve never tried matcha or you drink it religiously, proper matcha tasting is an art form - but one that isn't intimidating. Just as you would with any glass of wine, there are steps you must closely follow to ensure you appreciate each nuance and unique flavour to get the most out of your matcha tasting experience.
Step 1: Look at the powder
The powder, in particular the colour of your matcha is the first indication of the quality. A vibrant green powder that appears bright and almost electric indicates a premium quality matcha made from the youngest and most nutritious tea leaves. If your matcha sports a yellowish hue, it was most likely harvested from an older crop or wasn’t stored properly during the production process. Note that organic matcha is often a less vibrant green due to the natural growth of tea plants without added fertilizer.
Step 2: Smell the powder
Once you have examined the color of the matcha, bring the matcha close to your nose and inhale slowly and deeply. The aroma of matcha indicates its freshness and caliber. Premium matcha should carry a bold aroma of sweetness and dark chocolate, causing your mouth to water impatiently.
Step 3: Sift and examine
Carefully sift your powder with a matcha sifter and observe how the powder moves. A poor quality matcha will stick to the sifter or not move easily in the bowl. Premium matcha, on the other hand, will sift easily through the mesh and fall beautifully to the bottom of your matcha bowl like fine grains of soft sand slipping through an hourglass.
Step 4: Add water and smell again
Once you’ve added a small amount of hot, but not boiling, water to your matcha and whisked it to a paste, take another deep, slow breath and inhale the new scent. Your matcha should now smell smooth and buttery with a hint of umami and dried figs.
Step 5: Sip
Every step has led to this moment: the moment you finally get to taste the matcha that has been tantalizing your taste buds. After adding more water and whisking well, gently swirl your matcha bowl so that the matcha is mixed evenly. Carefully take a small sip and let the taste of warm matcha flood your mouth. Let it glide over the back of your tongue, the roof of your mouth, reaching every taste bud in an explosion of flavor. A perfect matcha isn’t bitter or astringent; it should fill your mouth with fresh, vegetal flavours: like the tea fields of Kyoto are dancing on your tongue.
Once you become more and more familiar with matcha, the difference between various grades will become increasingly obvious. Your refined tastes will appreciate the careful process that goes into making the most pure and premium matcha and your body will savor the nutrients and health benefits accompanying every bowl.