Friday, June 7, 2013

Water temperature for Matcha

I didn’t find the matcha that I prepared at home as tasty as the sample that I tried at a tea shop.  The sample at the shop had a very mellow but rich flavor with a mouth-filling umami, which is not bitter at all.  It was my favorite type of flavor that I'm looking forward to find in matcha.  When I tried it at home,  the rich umami was still there but the tea also became a bit of not so good taste.  It happens sometimes.  Even though, I get the same tea, it doesn’t taste good when I prepare it at home.  Have you ever experienced this kind of stuff?  You may think of various reasons, it could be the water, utensils or how you prepared it. 

When the lady at the shop was preparing the sample matcha, I noticed that she cooled down the hot water with a yuzamashi, ceramic bowl.  I got it!  Water temperature!  I didn’t give much attention to the water temperature when I prepared it at home.  Now, I got curious what would be the best temperature for this matcha. 

I prepared this tea with four different temperatures; 90, 80, 70 and 60C (194,176,158 and 140F).  What do you think about it?

From Left: 90, 80, 70 and 60C (194, 176, 158 and 140F)

I started to sip from the 90C tea.  I expected it to be bitter but it turned out quite great.  It has a rich flavor but it’s never bitter.  I love it.  I realized the excellent potential of this tea.  I tried tasting 80, 70 and 60 in turns.  They were getting milder as the temperature gets lower.  Each tea had a good sweetness.  The 90C tea has both sharpness and complexness in its flavor, while the 60C tea highlights its rounded umami mainly.  I found that the 90C tea was the tastiest at first impression and the 60C tea was too mild.  But then, when I tried them in the inverse order, from 60 to 90, I found a slight unpleasant taste in the 90C tea, and the 60 was the best.  The order has a big impact to my impression.   As I repeatedly tasted them, I got confused and I couldn’t tell which one I like the best.  Moreover, the teas seemed to get stronger and created more bitterness as the time passed.  

These four tea that I prepared today were relatively good when comparing with the tea that I had prepared previously.  The cause for the bad tea at home might not be the water temperature.  There might be some other reasons.  The difference between the previous preparation and this time is sifting.  I didn’t sift the matcha last time because it was a new tea that I just bought from the shop.  I found some lumps in the tea, so this time I sifted it before making the tea.  I guess that sifting has much to do with the taste of tea.

What I learned from today’s test are ..
-Sifting can be an important factor to serve a good tea. 
-High temperature water makes crisp tea with delightful complex flavors, and low temperature water makes mellow tea with abundant milky umami.
-I should consider the idle time after tea was served until the one to be drunk.  The tea gets stronger and bitterer during the period. 

Each tea was unique and attractive.  I can’t simply say what temperature is the best.   The temperature is only one of the many factors to serve a precious bowl of tea.   


  1. Wow, how complicated. Your experiment and observations are very interesting! Another variable is if you have a sweet before the tea, too, right?

    My school teaches to use water that is just below boiling, so 90-95 degrees Celsius. I thought that matcha tasted best either at this temperature, or very cold, with iced water. But I have not tried so many temperatures in a row.

    At home my tea does not taste as good as at school, even with almost boiling water. I have been trying for a long time to figure this out, actually, but I still don't know. I tried temperature, the brand of bottled water, and the kind of kettle I used to boil the water. Currently I think it must have something to do with my kettles. My school's kettle is very very very old, and the deposits inside of it must affect the taste of the water. My own kettle is new and inexpensive, probably machine made, from China. But I have also tried a stainless steel kettle (the kind you put on a stove), and an electric water pot (the kind that has a nonstick coating on the inside).

    1. I think you are right. The sweet before the tea will affect the taste as well.

      I have the same problem. The taste of the tea at my school is relatively better than tea at my home, even though I use the same brand of tea. I’m quite sure that the cause in my case is the kettle. I use an electric kettle at home, which has developed an unwilling smell like soil with a long time use. The water boiled with this kettle has a slight taste of the unpleasant smell. I would like to have an iron kettle someday.

  2. I think also that tea made by someone else for you tastes much better than tea made for yourself.

    1. Ah, that is deep.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. It may be the truth, hahaha.

  3. I love your blog post !can we be friends hehe! I've also been experimenting with matcha and water temperature its so true that water temperature has impact on the flavour, being in London it seems as though there isn't many shops that really deal with matcha and I never know if i'm getting the best one, currently I get it from this coffee store that's online called Algerian coffee store and also through teapigs, do you have any advice on what I should look for when buying matcha? many thanks your blog is so interesting love it!!

    1. >> what I should look for when buying matcha?
      It’s a tough question. You will never know until you actually try the tea that you purchased. The important thing when you look for matcha is finding a reliable tea shop. How do you like the matcha from Algerian coffee store’s and teapigs?
      Low quality matcha usually has strong grassy bitterness while the one from good matcha is mild. Good matcha have richness in its flavor which is created with sweet umami. Those umami will exceed the bitterness and leave pleasant feeling in your mouth.
      Try many different matcha from different shops! Enjoy!

  4. Making good use electric kettle.