If your matcha from the coffee shop tastes much better than your homemade matcha, you’re doing something wrong. The first thing you need to pay attention to is the matcha water temperature.
The Recommended Temperature of Water for Matcha
The ideal water temperature for matcha is around 175°F (80°C).
You can use cooler water not lower than 140°F (60°C), but it’s not recommended to use hotter water than 175°F (80°C) or boiling water. You can, but your matcha will be bitter and unpleasant to drink.
Many people say, “I don’t like how matcha tastes!” “How come it is so popular when it tastes bitter?” The simple answer is that when matcha is not prepared properly, it can quickly become bitter.
The most common mistakes when preparing matcha are the water temperature, using the wrong kind of matcha, mixing it the wrong way, or using too much or too little matcha powder.
I assume that most individuals make a mistake with the water temperature and matcha grade.
If you’re new to matcha powder, here is a detailed article on matcha basics: how it is made, different grades, and more.
The Effect of Water Temperature on Matcha Tea Taste and Appearance
Most matcha tea’s natural compounds are stable in hot water. If you use the recommended water temperature, not higher than 175°F, you’ll extract in balance all the catechins, amino acids, aromas, and caffeine of the matcha powder.
Boiling water scorches the matcha powder and makes the tea unpleasant and bitter, regardless of the quality of the matcha used.
You may put this to the test for yourself.
Make one serving of matcha tea with boiling water and another with water that is 175°F or below.
Matcha tea brewed with boiling water has a yellowish or brown color, but matcha tea made with colder water has a vivid green color. It will also have increased bitterness and astringency compared to matcha made at lower temperatures.
How to Bring Water to the Right Temperature for Matcha Tea
The best way is to use an electric kettle with temperature settings. If you don’t have one, then you can try the following options.
The first option is to bring the water to a boil at 212°F (100°C) and pour the boiling water over twice in another cup to cool it down. When hot water is transferred to another vessel, it cools by around 10 degrees.
The second option is known as “crab eyes” (slightly large bubbles before the water starts to boil). Right before the water in your kettle or pot hits 175 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll notice a few little bubbles forming at the bottom of the pot and a small wisp of steam rising.
If you wish to use colder water, say 160°F, for your matcha tea, remove the pot when you notice small pinhead-sized bubbles developing at the bottom. There is no steam at this temperature.
When the water is not quite boiling but you see water bubbles the size of pearls, also known as fish eyes, and the rising steam is stronger, this means the water temperature is around 180°F.
What Type of Water is Best for Matcha Tea?
The type of water you use also has a big impact on the final matcha tea flavor. Besides the water temperature, you should also pay attention to:
- The water’s pH level
- Water hardness or softness
- Purity of the water
The ideal pH of the water for making matcha should be slightly acidic, but it shouldn’t be too acidic. If it is too acidic, it may cause a sour taste. A pH of 6.5-7 is ideal. If the water is too alkaline, the tea may become bitter.
The hardness or softness of water
Softer water is often preferred for the greatest taste. Softer water brings out the best tastes and aromas of matcha. The taste and aroma will be decreased if you use hard water.
Tip: A simple way to find out if your water is hard or soft is to fill an empty plastic bottle halfway with water and add a few drops of dish soap. Put a cap on the bottle, and shake vigorously.
If your water becomes foamy with bubbles, it means your water is soft. If the soap ends up on top of the water as a shiny film, the water is hard.
You’ll need water with a TDS (total dissolved solids, eg. magnesium, calcium, etc) level between 50 and 150 ppm. Fresh spring water is ideal for making matcha.
Don’t use distilled spring water. The lack of minerals can have a negative effect on the flavor too.
If you need to use tap water, use a filter that can reduce the mineral content. The typical sample of tap water in the U.S. contains approximately 350 parts per million (ppm) of TDS.
Using Cold instead of Hot Water
You can use cold water instead of hot to make matcha tea. This method of preparation is known as “cold brew matcha.”
Cold brew matcha means mixing matcha powder with cold water. No heat is involved. Matcha prepared with colder water brings out maximum umami and is excellent for hot summer days.
One of the nicest things about cold brew matcha is how quick and simple it is to make. All you need is a lidded drinking bottle, a cup of water, and matcha powder.
It’s incredibly simple to make: simply pour the matcha powder into the bottle or jar, add the water, close the container, and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Your cold brew matcha is done when there are no clumps and there is a nice froth on the top.
This cold brew method is a great option to have your matcha tea no matter if you’re traveling, at work, at the gym, etc. You can use a single-serve packet of matcha and just a regular small bottle of water.
I think that matcha prepared with hot water is better in taste, but the cold brew matcha is a great option if you don’t have time to heat water and whisk.
The best water temperature for making matcha tea is 175°F. You can use cooler water, but never use hotter water than 175°F or boiling water. Cold water is also used when you are making cold brew matcha.
High-quality matcha powder is expensive, so every time you make matcha tea, make sure to use the recommended water temperature to get the right flavor and reap all the matcha benefits.
When it comes to water, besides the temperature, other important factors that influence the flavor and appearance of matcha tea are the pH of the water-use slightly acidic water near neutral or pH of 6.5-7. Also, softer water is a better choice than harder water, and filtered or fresh spring water is preferable when it comes to matcha and also other teas.
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