As the world embraces matcha for its health benefits and rich taste, it's time to delve deeper into the art of matcha pairing. Being native to Japan, matcha green tea has a sacred value and is a staple in the Japanese tea ceremony. If you are a green tea lover, it is essential to learn what is ideal to have on your tea table when enjoying a cup of matcha tea! So this guide is for you. From sweet to savory, we'll unveil the secrets to creating the perfect matcha symphony.
What is Matcha?
Matcha, aka Japanese green tea, is a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green leaves of the tea plant traditionally consumed in East Asia. Manufacturing matcha is a lengthy process that requires careful attention as the process manipulates natural chemicals like theanine and caffeine in the tea. Matcha tea dissolves in water or milk easily, and because of that, powdered matcha is consumed differently from other typical tea types.
Matcha tea gives a greenish tea brew with mellow vegetal, grassy notes and natural sweet nuttiness. The tea also has a touch of bitterness and a pleasant, savory ending. Matcha is popularly used to flavor and dye foods, apart from directly drinking them.
Moreover, this amazing tea is the major component in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, which are a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving matcha. Here, matcha is served along with traditional Japanese sweets, balancing the bitter taste of tea. It is an artistic process that is not only about drinking matcha but also a live demonstration of how to make matcha tea, what utensils are used, and how to serve and drink it. Therefore, matcha tea plays an essential and integral part in Japanese culture.
Grades of Matcha
For commercial purposes, matcha is available in three main categories called "grades," based on its different qualities and flavors. The matcha grades available in the market have three different types: ceremonial grade matcha, latte grade matcha, and cooking grade matcha.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha
Ceremonial-grade green tea matcha is the finest grade and is fit for tea ceremonies and Buddhist temples. The tea has a brighter green color along with a smooth flavor. When preparing the tea, a high proportion of powder is mixed with water to get a thick tea.
Latte Grade Matcha
Latte-grade matcha is an average matcha type with a slightly less bright green color and a fresh, subtle flavor with more bitterness. It is ideal for both new and regular matcha tea drinkers. If matcha is mixed with milk instead of water, it is called a matcha latte.
How to Make a Perfect Cup of Matcha
After selecting the suitable matcha grade and gathering equipment to make matcha, you are now ready to know how to make matcha tea. Making matcha at a traditional Japanese ceremony is a complex process, and you need not work that hard to make matcha teacups at home.
Make a Paste
First, you must make a thick paste with matcha and water. Add ¾ teaspoons of matcha (2–4 grams) to a spouted bowl or a glass liquid measuring cup. Add 2 ounces (60–80 ml) of cool water and whisk it into a thick paste.
Whisk Until fluffy.
Then add the remaining cool water and whisk vigorously back and forth until a foamy layer appears. This needs to be done for around 20–30 seconds. Whisking in a circular motion may delay the process, and it is best advised to go back and forth or up and down.
Add Hot Water
Then heat 6 ounces of water (180-240 ml) to 175–180 F and mix it with one teaspoon of honey in a mug. Sweetening depends on your choice, and it is not compulsory to add honey as the sweetener; you can also try other sweeteners.
Finally, pour the foamy matcha into the mug, stir gently, and adjust the sweetness to taste a perfect cup of matcha. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy your tea!
There are very few steps to follow to make this magical brew.
Pairing for Cup of Matcha
Tea, in general, is a wonderful beverage that can arouse your taste buds, but any tea, including matcha, gives its best flavor when it is paired with something that goes well with it. The two flavors combine, resulting in a heavenly feeling through the fusion. You can be adventurous by trying new combinations to see what pairs with matcha, and before that, try below to see how well they pair with matcha tea.
As matcha is a powdered version of green tea, dairy items like yogurt, milk, and cream pair well with matcha. Frozen yogurt gives a familiar flavor to matcha, not only with the taste but also with the texture. The combination provides a sweet, milky taste without overwhelming the taste of matcha.
Matcha tea has an earthy taste, like cocoa, that compliments each other. The combination of matcha and cocoa powder pairs well and delivers a refreshingly delicious, earthy chocolate flavor to the cup. Moreover, cocoa powder-based substitutes like dark chocolate, unsweetened chocolates, and chocolate chips can also be used to pair with matcha, experiencing the same flavors.
In Japan, the most common pairing for matcha tea is wagashi, made using rice flour and beans with seasonal delicacies. Traditional wagashi is made using plant-based ingredients, and it possesses a sweet taste that means there is no requirement to add sweets to the matcha tea cup. The sweet taste of wagashi slightly suppresses the bitter taste of matcha tea and combines well to give you a better experience.
Pocky is a snack stick that has icings of different types of flavors and sometimes even matcha as a flavor. It is a delicious snack, and the taste gets better when it is paired with matcha. A matcha-flavored pocky or any pocky eaten just after a sip of matcha would blend well and deliver a well-mixed, excellent taste.
Citrus is a taste that pairs well with matcha's bitter, earthy flavor, as it could help blend well and overwhelm the extra bitterness of the tea. Pairing matcha tea with a citrus salad would be ideal if you prefer a light and refreshing meal. Topping up the tea with a squeeze of lemon would give the combination an extra boost with natural oxidants.
Avocado is a wonderful, tasty fruit that contains protein and all essential amino acids. The nutty, buttery taste of avocado pairs well with matcha's slightly bitter, earthy flavor. Avocado toast will nicely pair with the tea while providing a healthy combination as a light meal.
Pineapple possesses a strong, sweet, and tart taste that can pair well with the bitterness of matcha tea. Having a piece of pineapple while sipping a cup of matcha would taste brilliant during the summer, and the combination would keep you energized and refreshed for hours.
Matcha tea is finely ground green tea powder through a unique process when manufactured. The teacup has a greenish color and a taste of mellow vegetal, grassy notes, and a touch of bitterness. It is widely consumed in Japanese tea ceremonies, which is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving matcha. There are three primary grades: ceremonial grade matcha, latte grade matcha, and cooking grade matcha. Making matcha at home has four simple steps: making a paste, whisking, adding hot water, and combining. It is a wonderful beverage that can be drunk with several other confections for a better tea experience. When considering "what pairs with matcha?" some food items have been identified as delivering perfect flavor combinations. But there is no hard rule to stick with. You are always free to be adventurous, try other foods as you wish, and find out what pairs with matcha.