Friday, January 16, 2015

Common Beginner’s Mistakes in Making Matcha

Confident on your procedures?

This entry is for the people who havejust got started with matcha. They might have learned it from books or YouTube, and they might not have experienced people around who can give advice. How sure are you if you are doing the right way? There are some mistakes that beginners might make. I’ll show them on the following video. Please watch it and find the mistakes.

How many mistake did you notice?

Let’s take a look at the mistakes one by one.

1. Laying the bamboo whisk

At the beginning on the video, the whisk was laid. The tines are delicate. Do not rest it on the tines and keep it standing. Damaging the tines might shorten the life of the whisk.

2. Putting the lid of natsume container upside-down

Natsume is usually coated with beautiful urushi lacquer. By placing the lid upside-down, it might damage it. You don’t want to see scrapes on the top of your lid. When placing it on the table, place it just as its orientation.

3. Not fully wiping off the water

I’m sorry that it is difficult to notice it on the video and this image. After warming up the bowl with hot water, if the bowl was not wiped carefully enough, some water droplets will remain in the bowl. If you put matcha in the wet bowl, matcha might absorb the moisture and create some lumps. It doesn’t have a good effect to the taste of the tea.

4. Pressing matcha

When breaking the heap of matcha in the bowl, I used the flat part of the scoop tip. It was kind of packing the matcha. It can be an obstacle in mixing matcha and water well. Above all, the tea won’t taste good with compacted matcha. In this video, I also noticed that the packed matcha doesn’t get frothy much. Use the edge of the scoop, and try not to press matcha when breaking the heap.

5. Keeping the lid open

I didn’t put the lid of natsume back after putting the matcha into the bowl. I kept making tea with the lid open. You should not give your matcha unnecessary exposure to the air. Getting moisture and oxidation are not good for matcha. It might help the matcha go bad quickly. Put the lid back right after you put the matcha in the bowl. 

6. Placing the natsume with an impact

When I placed the natsume back on the table, I put it carelessly with an knocking sound. The impact may compact the matcha inside. Compacting matcha is not good for the taste and even more it doesn’t look nice. 

Consideration to the tea

Please pardon my skills if you can see other mistakes in this video. The examples that I introduced here are not rules. They just come from consideration to the tea and utensils. Treating the tea and utensil with care are not only for art form, but also it directly affects the condition of your utensils and the flavor of the tea that you are serving.  These consideration make a big change.


  1. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your advices!

    1. Thank you, Alejandra-san, I hope you enjoy your matha!

  2. Excellent! We leart all the times something...
    I will stop laying the bamboo whisk on the radiator after having Matcha!

    1. That’s good for your whisk! The preparation room of proper tea rooms usually has some hooks to hang the whisks on the wall.

  3. I loved the video and found it made me laugh a couple of times! But that isn't to say I am so great at preparation but I have learned a lot from you in other videos. I make matcha for myself mostly and try to respect a peaceful practice...your video almost gives me the jitters! Not peaceful!

    I have meant to ask...about the bamboo whisk...are you supposed to ever move the black string at the top of the whisk ower, for example when the whisk is older and not so compact?

  4. I meant move the string lower", not ower. I need an edit button!

    1. Hahaha, I understand that you got the jitters. I myself was very frustrated when performing them for the video.

      I’m sorry for my English. I don’t quite understand your question about the black string on the whisk. Anyway, I don’t move the black string basically. It is braided tightly very much so it is difficult to move.

    2. When a whisk is very well used and spreading outwards more than it did when younger, I thought it might be a good idea to push down the string, not towards the handle but the other direction. I did it with my finger tip and only moved it 1/8th an inch or a little more. It did bring the whisk part in towards the center more. I wasn't sure if the string was there for that or not.

      I guess not as it seems you have never heard of it. It is probably a mistake you could add to your video!

    3. Thank you for explaining it. Now I understand what you do. I have never experienced the whisk spreading. It’s very interesting. In contrast, my whisk usually get shrink and narrow, so as the whisks in my tea school. I sometimes use a whisk stand to stretch it and give the volume back. Anyway, as I mentioned before, the string is very tight and I can’t not move it to either direction. Thank you for sharing your experience. I learned the problem that some people might have.

  5. Thanks for sharing Kohei-san! I think I've learnt so much from your blog these past few years :)
    Btw, I was told that we should only knock/tap the chasaku once after scoop the matcha into the chawan. I noticed you did it twice :D
    I know there are so many details regarding Chanoyu and I find it interesting.
    I'm not quite sure about the reason why but also wondering if the number of knock is something we have to pay attention as well?

    1. Konnichiwa, Neysa Valeria-san, I’m glad that you’ve followed my blog for a couple years. Thank you.
      I believe the the difference in knocking is just a difference of school tradition. I regret to say that I don’t know the reason. I learn it in Omotesenke School, by the way.
      So, you learn Sado. Which tradition do you learn? I hope you enjoy it.

  6. Hi there! Nice stuff, do keep me posted when you post again something like this!
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  8. I'm relatively new to the art of making matcha, and this blog has been incredibly informative. Thank you for sharing these valuable tips!