Matcha is, of course, traditionally made in a wide, shallow bowl. Matcha is sifted into the bowl, a small amount of hot water is ladled in, and this mixture is then whisked by hand, using a traditional bamboo whisk. In the hands of very skilled people who use excellent matcha, this method can produce a fine crema.
Making matcha the traditional way is a classic case of form driving function. The bowl MUST be shaped the way it is so that the hand whisk can be accommodated. You could never use an electric whisk, for example, in a wide shallow matcha bowl –you’d end up with a very green shirt! Likewise, you could never use the bamboo hand whisk in a creamer or a mug — you NEED that big shallow surface for it to work.
While there is undeniably beauty in making matcha the traditional way, I found myself wanting to sip highest-quality matcha from smaller cups; it seemed a little more practical for everyday use, and there is special pleasure to be had from smaller, lighter, more ethereal ceramics. But some kind of vessel was needed in which to make/froth the matcha if we use a hand-held electric frother (intended for making foamed milk for Italian-style coffee drinks, but it makes truly fabulous matcha). We found that a small creamer fit this bill perfectly, especially if it was slightly wider at the bottom and tapered upward. We couldn’t find the perfectly shaped creamer for matcha, so we asked the great ceramicist Aletha Soule to make us one. Ditto for the cups.
Making matcha in the breakaway style is fun, easy, and quick, and it produces a superior crema. It promotes daily drinking, and it relieves the pressures of “doing it right” and the many, many rules associated with the tea ceremony/the traditional way.
The breakaway approach to matcha aims to upend all of that. We feel it is a delicious, epicurean, supremely healthy product that should be enjoyed daily, in a casual manner along the lines of how Italians enjoy espresso. In the same way that breakaway cooking breaks free from traditional culinary constraints, breakaway matcha aims to democratize matcha and to make it accessible to everyone who wishes to have an epicurean experience along the lines of a fine wine with off-the-charts health properties.
The culture of matcha is incredibly rich, has a venerable history that is simply awesome in its beauty and relevance. But it can be, indeed must be, brought up to contemporary times, to be more suited to the way people live and work today.