Matcha is a type of green tea that originated in Japan in the 9th century, where Japanese matcha sets prevailed. The leaves are stone-ground into a fine powder. In essence, rather than infusing water with the tea’s flavor, you ingest the entire leaf that is whisked until frothy with a bit of water. Making this green tea at home is not a difficult task. However, to be able to make it like an expert, you are going to need special tools. The best matcha sets include four basic components:
- A bowl referred to as a chawan
- A special whisk called a chasen
- A sifter
- A scoop/spoon called a chashaku
These tools help achieve the best flavors and textures in your tea. Some matcha green tea sets often include additional items like bamboo spoons, tea cloths, and more.
Matcha contains a lot of caffeine, almost the same amount as a cup of coffee, but more so than green tea. People invest in matcha tea sets because the tea is an excellent pick-me-up beverage. How people use matcha sets varies; some prefer it in a ceremonial style, while others like it mixed with milk as a latte. These sets are also used for baking, the tea’s unique bitter taste counteracting the baked good. In this guide, we discuss the relevance of matcha tea sets, and the unique beverage itself.
Benefits Of Matcha Bowl Sets
Following are the benefits of investing in a set:
- Experience: You could either make your favorite tea the regular way, or you could fully enjoy the Japanese tea ceremony experience by investing in a set. Matcha sets are known not just for their functionality, but their beauty as well.
- Bamboo Whisks vs Regular Whisks: Contrary to any other type of whisk that could affect the delicate taste of your tea, bamboo whisks do not leave behind any smell or taste that would otherwise affect the taste. Iron whisks, on the other hand, impact the taste of matcha tea. They are also quite durable. If you dry them properly, they can keep their shape and work efficiently for months, even years. Bamboo whisks are also flexible. They do not scratch or damage the chawan. This is especially important since these bowls are old and valuable.
- Relaxation: The calming effects of making the tea and drinking it are yet another reason you should invest in a matcha whisk set. For centuries, Japanese Zen Buddhists and Chinese Daoist monks have been using this tea for relaxation. Making the tea using its special tools would promote calmness and concentration while they meditated.
Types of Matcha Sets
It may pleasantly surprise you to know, once you are out (or online) to buy a matcha gift set; you will come across many types of variants. The bowls are not all the same, and neither are the whisks. Some sets either come in trios, and some offer extra tools to enhance your overall experience.
There are many types of bowls for making matcha. The most popular types include:
- Wan-nari — these chawan look similar to wooden bowls, and are the most popular kind. Their shape makes them easy to drink from.
- Hantsutsu-gata — these kinds are cylindrical shaped and make the whisking process easy.
- Raku type — the raku type, originating from Kyoto, are known for their balanced shape.
- Hira-gata — best for the summers because of their flatter shape.
Matcha Whisk Types
Whisks in matcha starter sets come in sixty different types, each having its benefits and features. You can look for details like
- Whisk size
- The number of tines on the whisk
- Straight or curved tines
Some whisks have around 80 to 120 times that are curved to create more froth, and some come with fewer tines that are straighter, creating less froth. Some are small, designed to make a thicker version of matcha called koicha. Some are larger for making usucha, a most liquid version of the tea for those who enjoy Western teas.
What to Look for in a Matcha Set
Following are the factors to consider when shopping for a traditional matcha tea set:
The Smoothness of the Chawan
The chawan translates to “tea bowl.” It is a ceramic vessel used to prepare matcha. This is an integral part of a matcha green tea set, and it comes in many different types and colors. Ideally, the bowls in a matcha bowl set should be around 4.5 to 5 inches in diameter. It should also be smooth and easy to grab; that way it will be perfect for sipping.
The whisk, or chasen, should have the following qualities:
- The material should ideally be made of bamboo.
- The more bristles or prongs the chasen has, the better. This is because they will mix the tea powder better. Some come with prong counts between 16 to 120. For convenience, beginners should opt for a whisk containing around 70 prongs.
- In terms of shape, beginners should consider chasens with curled tips as they are easier to use. However, even if you choose straight prongs, they will curl up after use as well.
The Porosity of the Chawan
To serve your green tea perfectly, the chawan must be non-porous. That is because if the bowl is porous, it would catch on to different aromas and flavors. This may ruin the authentic taste of your tea if you drink it from that bowl.
The Best Matcha Tea Sets for the Home
To emulate a traditional Japanese ceremony at home with a ceremonial matcha tea set, choose a set that includes traditional tools. These matcha sets can include three to a complete eleven pieces. For your convenience, choose a set that comes with a user manual. The essentials to include are a bowl (chawan), a powder strainer, a scoop (chashaku), and a whisk (chasen). Complete sets include a tea tray, a tea cloth, a chasen holder, a powder caddy, and more. However, it may be better for beginners to go with three-piece sets since they will not be as confusing.
Matcha sets are a thing of beauty and excellent gifts for the dear ones in your life who appreciate unique presents. And naturally, the green tea such sets are made for is also special. Looking for the right set for you may seem like a difficult task, but with the right resources, you can get yourself a top-quality set (and tea).
What should I look for in a matcha set?
When perusing the market for a set, look for ones with smooth and non-porous bowls. Also, consider whisks based on your expertise level, i.e., go for around seventy pre-curled prongs if you are a beginner.
Do I need a special matcha bowl?
While such bowls enhance your overall experience, they are not fully necessary. You may opt for a different bowl that is similar in shape and size to a traditional chawan.
How to store a matcha tea set?
It is recommended to store your set somewhere dry. A chasen must never be stored with its prongs facing downwards. Instead, either use its holder (kusenaoshi) included in the set or store it with its prongs facing up.
Where to buy matcha tea sets?
Try to find a seller known for their affordability, reliability, and stellar customer satisfaction. It also helps to look at seller reviews. Try to look for whisks made in Japan; they may be expensive but their quality will make up for the cost.
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