The distillation of our master tea blenders' and farmers' generations of experience, our ceremonial matcha range is hand-picked from the topmost, virgin leaves of shade-grown tea-trees with a minimum age of at least 30 years. During the first harvest to create outstanding grades of matcha that rival fine wines with the sophistication and breadth of their flavours. Our ceremonial ranges are ideal for brewing on their own, with warm or ice cold water. The higher the grade, the sweeter, less bitter, and more umami-rich they are.
Our culinary matcha grade is a matcha of choice for leading baristas, chefs, pâtissiers, chocolatiers, food artisans and manufacturers. Suitable for use in beverages and dessert recipes, our culinary matcha boasts a vibrant green colour, mellow umami, and the robust intensity required to shine through other complementary ingredients. It is perfect for all kinds of drinks and dessert recipes ranging from matcha lattes, cappuccinos, frappés, ice cream, chocolate, fresh or raw desserts, to baked sweets, bread and pastries.
Thick or Thin Matcha?
The most cursory inquiry into the literature on matcha will bring up a reference to the basic two traditional Japanese styles of matcha preparation: usucha (“thin tea,” literally translated) and koicha (“thick tea”).
The basic idea is that higher grades of matcha — by which we mean more vibrant colour, loads of natural sweetness, maximum umami, and very long finish — should be used to make thicker/denser/stronger tea, and that lesser grades are good only for thinner/weaker tea. Another distinction made by tea teachers is that usucha is typically made from the leaves of tea bushes that are less than 30 years old, and koicha is made from the first harvest of plants that are a minimum of 30 years old.
Preparation methods for koicha and usucha are very different. For koicha, as much as four grams (two teaspoons) of matcha are used, roughly four times the typical one-gram serving for usucha.
Water quantity differs too: koicha uses far less water (perhaps a single ounce) than usucha, which can use three or four ounces of water. As one can imagine, koicha preparation requires a very high quality matcha, or it’s going to taste incredibly unpleasant. Using culinary matcha, or even many of the “ceremonial” grades available commercially, in four times the normal strength AND using less than half the normal hot water quantity will result in a treacly, mud-like sludge.
Preparation of the two styles is couldn’t be more different. For usucha, one typically uses the traditional Japanese bamboo whisk (or you could experiment with electric whisks/milk frothers) to create a nice head of crema, which beautifully shows off the brilliant colour of the tea. Koicha, in stark contrast, doesn’t have any crema at all. One “massages” the large quantity of tea with the bamboo whisk and a few drops of hot water, then incorporates a tiny bit more water, perhaps a tablespoon at most, which reheats the tea and makes it more viscous. The final viscosity of koicha is something like that of warm honey or melted chocolate. The viscosity of usucha is something like an espresso or perhaps a macchiato.
We find this entire koicha/usucha fixation confusing. Why does it have to be one or the other? There can be, should be, and are GRADES of thickness/viscosity. Koicha is edgy and challenging; it’s very, very intense in a very good way when made with worldclass matcha, and intensely unpleasant when made with subpar matcha. One has to have a rather wide-open mind to drink tea in this fashion. It’s hard to imagine drinking it regularly, during the workday kind of thing. Not likely to catch fire with the masses! There are probably a few hundred people worldwide who drink koicha on a daily basis, maybe as few as a few dozen.
So the real “sweet spot” for matcha is somewhere in between thick and thin. But if a thicker cup of matcha can’t be made from the matcha you’re drinking, because the result is unpleasantly bitter and even downright nasty, you’re drinking the wrong matcha. Add some fat and sugar to this matcha and bake with it, make a smoothie or latte out of it! But don’t drink it straight up.
It’s not like we must adhere to this “written in stone” choice of thick versus thin. None of it matters if you use good matcha. Make your cup of matcha with a single gram of matcha, or, if you really want to let your hair down, use two. If you happen to like your tea on the stronger side, use a little less water. If you’d rather something less intense, just add hot water! And you’ll wind up with your personalized, perfect cup of matcha.
The key to a good matcha tea is never bother using a lesser grade of matcha, and none of these koicha/usucha distinctions will matter.