Japanese Patterns of Design

Matcha Tea Set: Best Starter Kit and How to Prepare Matcha

Image by dungthuyvunguyen from Pixabay

We assume you are a matcha lover and want to make a cup of matcha yourself. We’re glad to share the tools that make up a matcha tea set and techniques you need to start preparing matcha with you. You don’t really have to prepare all the tools at the beginning. The good news is you can substitute many of them! Let’s make it fun and get started!

We’ve listed up the tools you need to prepare matcha aside from matcha powder. Ultimately, you can enjoy making matcha if you prepare a Chawan (tea bowl) and the chesen (bamboo tea whisk). Even you can substitute the Chawan for a bowl you already have. Let’s consider other tools that you may want to collect and prepare for a more proper setting of the tea ceremony later. Our focus is to have you started with a simple setting now!

Matcha Preparation Tools – Matcha Tea Set

  • Chawan (Matcha tea bowl)
  • Chashaku (Bamboo tea scoop)
  • Chasen (Bamboo tea whisk)

These three tools are very basic you ever need to start your preparation of matcha. We’ve listed the other tools that you don’t really need to prepare at this moment, but they are pretty useful if you can prepare. The tea preparation tools are considered to be some art as well. You can enjoy collecting them and using them for different types of gatherings and seasons.

Chawan (Matcha tea bowl)

matcha chawan_Photo Courtesy kastellobet.dk

The Chawan is for drinking tea. The term “cha” means tea and “wan” means a bowl. It comes in a variety of materials and shapes. Usually, we use different types of chawans for different seasons. In winter, the chawan with height is used for keeping the matcha warm and the one with shorter height is used in Summer. You can substitute by a (Café Au Lait) bowl!

When we drink koicha (strong tea), we use the chawan without any pattern while we use the one with a pattern for drinking usucha (weak tea). It should be fun to choose your favorite out of wide selections.

Chashaku (Tea scoop)

Chashaku _varieties of tea scoop_Photo Courtesy: kamon.info

Chashaku is a small tea scoop. It’s usually made of trees such as bamboos and rarely made of ivory. The plum, pine, or cherry trees are used as material. Most of them have about 20 cm length and there is a signature of a creator. It’s one of the most important tea preparing tools.

After use, you need to wipe clean with a dry cloth to prevent deterioration. Never wash it with water.

Good news! You can substitute it for a teaspoon. Be careful with the amount you scoop since it tends to be too much. Let’s say half or a lesser amount of matcha powder with a scoop of a teaspoon will do. You can explore your preferable amount of matcha powder which can vary for seasons, too.

Chasen (Tea whisk)

Chasen_tea whisk_Photo Courtesy: arteclassica.jp

Chasen is to make a tea that is usually made of bamboo. This is something you can’t really substitute for anything. For Koicha (strong tea: using a lot of amount of matcha powder that turns to be the sticky kind of quality), the one with used and for Usucha (weak tea: using relatively a less amount of matcha powder that turns to be watery compared to Koicha), is used. The thicker whisk is used while the less thick one is used for usucha, the latter is suitable for beginners.

Always handle it with care not to damage the chawan or chasen itself by hitting the inside of the chawan. It is very delicate, so try not to scratch the bottom.

Make sure you wash it with water or lukewarm water after use. Never use the washing detergent which damages the chasen. Also, let it completely dry not to have it produce mold before storing it on a shelf.

There are many varieties of chasen depending on each occasion and school of tea ceremony.

The three tools we’ve shown above are essential and they can be substituted by other stuff except for the chasen. So basically, all you have to prepare for starting matcha is matcha powder and the chasen. Below we will introduce you to some other tools used in the tea ceremony, but you really don’t need them unless you perform in kind of an official tea ceremony.

Tea whisk holder

Perhaps you might want to have this since the chasen can rest well on this one after use and it helps the chasen to keep its shape for a longer period of time.

Tea strainer

It’s not absolute, but comes very handy that makes the end product quality higher for sifting matcha powder in advance.

Yuzamashi (a wastewater bowl, also known as “Koboshi”)

It is also called “Yukoboshi” that is used for containing the discarded water after rinsing the chawan or chasen. It is made of bronze, copper, ceramics. The kensui is considered to be a lower-rank tool so it is placed where the guests really can’t see it.

Chakin (a piece of white cloth)

Chakin is to wipe off the Chawan and another piece of cloth used to wipe off Chasen and Natsume (container for powdered tea) is called “Fukusa”. But as a beginner, you don’t have to worry about them. They are used in a tea ceremony that is sort of performing arts to entertain guests.

Fukusa (a piece of cloth)

Fukusa is another piece of cloth that cleans the chasen and chaki (tea tools). It’s made of “Shioze” (the type of silk material), the purple ones are for the males and the red ones for females.

Where to Buy Matcha Tea Set

Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay

There are several excellent stores you can buy your first matcha starter kit online.

Ippodo Tea Store is one of the most trusted and popular tea stores in Japan. If you are lucky enough to be in Japan, you have chances to stop by their physical stores especially in Kyoto or Tokyo. The store staff will help you choose the best tea tools for you and how to prepare tea as well.

Ippodo Tea Online Shop

Well, quite frankly, you go to Amazon and type in ” Matcha tea set”, you can get loads of selection of them. As long as they have a decent bowl and tea whisk, any of them will do for a starter. If you already have matcha powder and a tea bowl, you just need to order a chasen (tea whisk) that gets you started right away.

Also, you can visit other physical tea stores if you happen to be in Tokyo.

Where to Buy Best Matcha? 5 Established Matcha Stores in Japan

How to Prepare Matcha – Matcha Tea Set

Image by A_Different_Perspective from Pixabay

Here’s a good video which shows you how to prepare matcha yourself. You’ll figure out it’s not really difficult.

1. Sifting matcha powder

Scoop up the amount for one cup of matcha. You can use a teaspoon or measuring spoon to scoop up.
Sifting matcha powder in advance makes the process go in a smooth manner.

2. Preparing warm water

If you are in a country where soft water is attainable, use it for your matcha. When you buy water from stores, make sure you choose soft water. Purified water is preferable. If you don’t have a water purifier, boil it without a lid and let it boil for a while to remove chlorine odor.
Whatever water you use, you need to boil it before use.

3. Preparing matcha powder (To your preference)

Amount of matcha powder… 1 teaspoon (spoonful) or 2 chashaku (bamboo tea scoop) = 1.5g

Amount of warm water… about 70cc
The Water Temperature… 70-80℃ You can achieve this by transferring hot water into the other cup (one time in winter and two times in summer).

4. How to make a matcha tea

You start stirring at the bottom very slowly to disperse matcha powder and gradually raise the chasen (tea whisk) and shake your hand back and forth there. Once you made some foam, you take the chasen to the top of the foam and slowly stir it to make it finer. At last, carefully raise the chasen after you made a nice foam risen in the center.

Did you ever wonder why you have to make froth? Well, you don’t really have to. Making froth makes the matcha tastes milder, however, no foam makes you taste the original matcha that is totally up to your preference.

Wagashi_closeup Photo Courtesy: Douglas Perkins on Wikipedia

We recommend you eat some sweets before you enjoy your matcha since it can be very strong in your empty stomach. Having a piece of sweet makes your matcha even better due to the contrast they make on your palate. What kind of sweets makes your matcha experience even better? Wagashi is it! They are not too sweet and let you enjoy its texture and beautiful appearance reminds you of the season you are in. They are a perfect match.

Wagashi: Traditional Japanese Sweets of Four Seasons

If you ever have prepared and joined some tea ceremony, you know that gives you meditative moments and clears your mind. As Japanese tea house architecture is made for that reason, detaching you from the outer world to relatively a small room that enables you to concentrate whatever happens in that room or on your mind. Once you are hooked preparing matcha yourself, there is no end for you to learn about and enjoy practicing. As of 2019, an increasing number of people begin to make matcha themselves that makes their daily life a nice rhythm.

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How do you enjoy your matcha? Any music you play along with preparing or drinking matcha or any ritual goes with your matcha preparing? Let us hear from you about your own unique experience of preparing matcha yourself.

Hiroko Matsuyama

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