There are several ways to prepare matcha tea at home, some much easier than others. For casual drinkers, the process is relatively straightforward. Measure out the amount of matcha tea powder you prefer per cup, mix it with a small amount of nearly boiling water, and then add the rest of the measured water to the tea. That is the simplest version.
Hot, iced, traditional, or for a facial mask
In reality, people use matcha tea for many purposes. In Japan, traditional tea ceremony rituals use the very best grade of tea to create a drink that cleanses both body and mind.
In Western cultures, matcha is often prepared as a casual breakfast drink, either hot or cold. Californians and Arizonans, for example, tend to make iced matcha tea during long, hot summers of the Southwestern U.S. But even outside Japan, people prefer to make a ritual out of the preparation process. In addition, some of the world’s top salons offer matcha facial masks as part of their services. Below, we discuss how to make ceremonial matcha tea, the casual hot or cold beverage, and the facial mask paste.
Hot tea for a casual breakfast
Tastes vary wildly, but a beginning point for mixture is one teaspoon of tea powder to six ounces of water. After your first few servings, adjust that ratio more to your personal liking.
• Boil spring or filtered water. Even distilled water can be used.
• Let the boiled water sit for a few minutes to cool down.
• Put the powder through a fine strainer to remove any lumps.
• Use a whisk to mix about two ounces of water with the powder until it is frothy.
• Then, add the rest of the water.
• Drink it this way the first time so you can later calibrate the amount of tea powder and decide whether to add any sweeteners.
• Note: The tea powder will settle on the bottom of the bowl after a while so be sure to re-stir it every few minutes.
Iced matcha tea for any time of the day
• This version is easier to make and uses less tea powder than the hot drink.
• Mix about one-half of a teaspoon of matcha tea powder with a few ounces of water to create a smooth paste.
• Add water to make about 10 to 12 ounces of iced tea.
• It is a common practice to add sugar, honey or artificial sweetener and ice to the liquid after that.
• For those who want an added burst of flavor and nutrition, let the tea sit in direct sunlight for about 15 minutes before adding ice and sweetener.
Matcha facial mask paste
• The mixture for a matcha facial mask is easy to remember because the recipe calls for equal parts of each ingredient. For two mask treatments, combine one teaspoon each of matcha tea powder, distilled water, and organic honey.
• Before applying the concoction to your face, be certain that the mixture is smooth and free of any granules or lumps.
• Use your fingers to apply the mask and leave it on for about 20 minutes.
• Rinse thoroughly and towel the face dry.
• It is highly recommended to apply a moisturizer immediately after your face is completely dry.
• If you feel that this regimen has caused your skin to dry out, use more water and less matcha powder the next time until the right ratio is achieved.
Note: Matcha tea contains numerous vitamins and minerals, so be sure that you have no skin allergies before using this mask. Put a bit of the paste described below onto a small section of your forearm or finger and leave it there for 30 minutes. If there is no adverse skin reaction, you’re good to go.
Traditional, ceremonial matcha tea preparation (the inner tradition)
Japanese chanoyu (tea ceremony) focuses on the concepts of harmony, tranquility, purity and respect. There are even deeper, esoteric meanings that can be approached if one decides to study the art of tea as an avocation.
When Buddhist monks brought the plant and the rituals from China to Japan more than 1,000 years ago, early practitioners of chanoyu used the ritual to hone their inner attention and thereby achieve a deep state of wakeful awareness.
Now, in a world mostly devoid of anything “inner,” where social interactions and daily life provide nothing to nurture one’s being, we can return to the ceremony of tea preparation and learn what it means to be truly human.
• Use graceful, deliberate physical movements while cleaning the teapot, whisk, bowl, sifter, scoop and the table where you intend to consume the tea.
• Measure one teaspoon of tea powder for each cup you intend to prepare.
• Look at the matcha tea powder as it falls through the sifter and into the bowl.
• Listen to the sounds you make as you prepare the mixture.
• Feel the utensils against your hand. Notice the pressure of your feet on the floor, the air temperature, outside noises, and the aroma of the tea.
• Ladle nearly-boiling water into the bowl and whisk it to a smooth, frothy state.
• Perhaps you can notice your own heartbeat and pulse as you add the rest of the water to the bowl. The heat might rise up around your face and remind you that water and high temperatures are transforming the powder into a new substance.
• Silently sit at the table and drink the tea in four or five sips, being free to make a slurping sound with each imbibing.
• When finished, wait a few minutes.
• Rise and clean the utensils with the same inner attention you used to prepare the tea.
• Consider the metaphor of tea preparation. Something from outside enters our lives, changes us in unique ways, and helps us bring attention to the fact that we exist, fully aware, each minute of the day.
Tea ceremony as it is practiced in Japan is indeed a metaphor for an inner life. The tea, the preparer, the tea room, utensils, guests and sweets that are served during the ceremony all have deep, metaphorical meanings that teach us lessons about life and help us take a step toward authentic consciousness.