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On Making Ultrathick Matcha

By Eric Gower Feb 9, 2017

On Making Ultrathick Matcha

The thicker you make matcha, the more intense the inherent flavors and qualities of that tea become. So if you're using  truly excellent tea, making it in the ultrathick style can be a sublime experience; there is nothing on earth quite like this warm, viscous, brothy, vegetal concoction.

This is especially true if consumed while other stars are aligned, meaning it might taste even better if you're completely relaxed, in a comfortable part of your house. You might be sharing it with someone you really like, or you might be tasting solo. Maybe you've made a commitment to opt for better, more nutrient-dense foods in your life. Maybe it's part of your 10-minute meditation practice, and maybe you enjoy your personal ritual of preparing it, and preparing it suited precisely to your palate.

Sadly, the converse is also true: if you use not-so-excellent matcha, the odds of ultrathick sub-par matcha being a disgusting experience are high -- imagine downing the muck that's settled at the bottom of a pond on a warm summer's day.

And, of course, all of this on a spectrum. We go from the truly unpotable to the sublime, from, say, zero to a hundred.

And the best way to find out what's what is to make ultrathick servings. 

What's an ultrathick serving? A minimum of four grams and two to three ounces of water. There are thicker versions. Along with some other hardcore matcha fans, I occasionally enjoy what some of our clients call "defcon" matcha: 8 to 10 grams of matcha per two to three ounces of water. I have had 15g bowls of matcha, and even a jumbo 30g bowl of matcha, shared with a few others (though those bowls had more water in them).

Generally speaking, you make ultrathick matcha by sieving/sifting it into a creamer/tumbler and adding very little hot water and frothing it briefly (about five seconds). Add more hot water, a little at a time, and froth again in short bursts until it reaches the consistency/ viscosity you like best. Swirl it vigorously, like wine. Then pour it into your favorite (ideally preheated)  cup/tumbler/bowl. You can always add more hot water at the very end, after it's in your cup/tumbler/bowl. You can add it a drop at a time and create cool little barista-style patterns, or you can swirl some in for whorl-like effects. If you put a long-necked funnel in your bowl, so that the tip touches the bottom, and pour some hot water into the funnel, you can create crazy "blooms" of matcha that are super-satisfying to make. 

The problem, of course, is cost. Since many hyperpremium matcha can cost several dollars (and up) per gram, an ultrathick bowl can get spendy, but, then again, it's important to frame it appropriately: No one blinks twice at spending $15 on a cocktail (or even buying a round of them) that more or less does the opposite of what matcha does (inebriates versus clarifies, toxifies versus detoxes), so spending a similar amount on a cup of obsessively handcrafted matcha and its long list of health-giving goodness might not feel like a waste of money. You might even feel the opposite, that it's actually kind of bargain when you consider how it's made, how good it tastes, and how good it makes you feel afterward. 

It's not surprising that we'd feel this way, considering that we are surrounded daily by large quantities of extra-special matcha and can "go defcon" anytime we like, but do give it a try if you haven't yet. You might like it, you might not, but, if you do, a whole new world of insanely great pleasure awaits you!

Eric is the founder and chief matcha evangelist at Breakaway Matcha. He's also an author, ghostwriter, editor, cooking instructor, and private chef. For 16 years, he lived and worked in Japan, where he took deep dives into all things matcha, food, literature, arts, and culture. Eric is the author of three cookbooks: The Breakaway Cook, The breakaway Japanese Kitchen, and Eric's Kitchen. He lives and works in Marin County, CA.