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Matcha tea brewing tools

The Beginner’s Guide To Brewing Matcha At Home

By | Tea

It seems like the word “matcha” has not only entered the English lexicon, but it’s now hard to walk around San Francisco or LA and not stumble upon it. And in Japan, where all the good stuff is grown, stone-ground, and has been around for nearly a millennium (we call it a 900-year fad), it really is ubiquitous.

Matcha is traditionally served warm, but lately, it’s become popular as a healthful icy drink in Japan’s humid warmer weather. I personally love cold brew matcha (there is nothing better when you’re hot and thirsty). And it’s entered the culinary world both in Japan and globally in a big way, showing up in the imaginations of pastry chefs everywhere in the form of pot de créme, croissants, pound cakes, cookies, greenies (matcha brownies), tarts, mousse, layer cakes …and, of course, in green tea ice cream.

It helps to think of matcha more as a food than as a tea. Unlike other teas, which are steeped for a few minutes and then tossed, leaving us to drink only an extract (the hot water pulls what it can from the leaves), matcha is taken whole. You simply add water (hot or cold) and shake it/whisk it/blend it so that the finely ground tea becomes suspended in water long enough to actually drink it. It has a full mouthfeel, not unlike espresso. The good stuff tastes amazing with lots of umami, and almost meaty with notes of grilled mushrooms and blended baby vegetables. The bad stuff, alas, is bad; it can taste pondy, muddy, and almost froggy. Avoid it! You can usually tell just by looking. Great matcha is crazily and vibrantly green, almost hallucinogenically green. It almost looks fake. The more vividly green, the better. Bad matcha is brownish or yellowish and needs fat and sugar to become palatable (then again, everything tastes good as a milkshake). You’ll see the sharp contrast in color in the photo below from Breakaway Matcha.

What Makes Match PremiumIf you skip all the fat, flour, and sugar that the pastry chefs like, and drink it straight up, water only, matcha is a supremely healthy food. It’s chock full of antioxidants, delivering a whopping 1450 ORAC units per gram (The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity scale that measures how well foods assist the body in absorbing oxidized free radicals). By comparison, a gram each of the best-performing superfoods like pomegranate, acai, wild blueberries, fresh turmeric, and fresh ginger COMBINED are far less. There’s much more to say about matcha’s truly remarkable health properties, but here are eight good reasons to drink it for optimal health.

The tools needed to make a good cup of matcha are simple, yet important. You don’t want to scoop some powder into a cup, add boiling water, and stir it with a fork. PLEASE do not do this.  You will scald and ruin the matcha and hate it as a result.
Best tools for brewing matcha teaWhat you want to do is get yourself a small sieve, place it over a tumbler, add a rounded half-teaspoon or so (or a full teaspoon for a stronger cup), and gently push the matcha through the sieve so that it falls below into the bottom of the (still empty) cup. You can use a regular teaspoon but the traditional bamboo scoop (chashaku) is a cool little piece of art shaped like a hockey stick. It is perfect for getting the matcha out (you’ll quickly get a feel for how much to pull out for a serving) and for pushing the matcha through the sieve.

You’re now ready to add water, but you’ll need two more tools first: a kettle to heat the water and a battery-operated handheld milk foamer found in any kitchen store. You can use the beautiful traditional chasen, a bamboo whisk hand-carved out of a single piece of bamboo, but there’s a learning curve to it. Its shape makes it’s very difficult to dry properly, so it tends to mold. Lovely as art, less useful as a matcha tool (the purists will surely disagree, I might add).

Water temperature is hugely important. Anything over 175°F will scald the matcha and make it taste really weird and awful. Something happens to it, and it isn’t pleasant. This is where a good kettle comes in. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle here. You can dial in the desired temperature (173°F!), and the water very rapidly heats. Stagg EKG then holds that temp for an hour! Fricking perfect because I often want a second one within the hour. And it’s an utter joy to use; perfectly balanced in the hand, and feather-light. The gooseneck means precision pouring, and I do mean precision. Precision pouring is important for matcha because you want to add just a light stream of water, slowly and carefully. This is impossible with most kettles, but Stagg EKG executes the perfect tumbler of matcha.

Beginners Guide To Matcha TeaThe last tool is the frother. At this point, you’ve got sifted matcha and a few ounces of 173°F water. Tilt the tumbler so when you turn on the frother, you froth just the liquid and avoid hitting the ceramic sides or bottom (you’ll hear it if you do). After 10 seconds or so you’ll get an unbelievably creamy and rich crema, similar to espresso crema. It takes some practice, but you’ll soon have it down. Here’s a video of the process.

So where’s the mindfulness? In the whole thing. You can definitely hurry through the process and just get on with your day (and sometimes this is all any of us can muster), but you’ll soon see the value in pausing to do this right. Allow yourself the five minutes it takes to heat the water, sieve the matcha, and work the frother. Take another few minutes to sip it. It will set the tone for…something. Who knows what? But the process, and the tea itself, has a way of making you notice things. If you find value in noticing more, noticing your environment and your place in it, noticing your internal and external conversations, noticing your emotions in real time…then now you have an excellent way to do that. All while sipping something that drinks like great wine and happens to be really good for your brain, body, and biome. Not bad for a couple of bucks and a decision to exert a tiny degree of control over your health and happiness!


Eric Gower 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.

Prismo AeroPress Coffee Maker Attachment Zingy G

How To Brew Zingy Ginger Mint Tea with Prismo

By | Tea

Our mighty AeroPress® Coffee Maker attachment Prismo brews a mean shot of “espresso,” a bold cup of immersion, and a sweet glass of cold brew. However, Prismo’s capabilities aren’t limited to just coffee. This little contraption packs a powerful tea punch, too. On a chilly day, load up ginger, mint, and lemon, and give them a plunge with Prismo. Here’s how to brew a cozy cup of Zingy Ginger Mint Tea in under three minutes with Prismo and your AeroPress® Coffee Maker!

The Ingredients

-One inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
-A small handful of mint leaves
-A lemon
-Honey
-Boiling water

The Recipe

1. Twist Prismo onto the bottom of your AeroPress® Coffee Maker, heat water in a pour-over kettle like the Stagg EKG to 212°F, and prep your ingredients.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 12. First, add the peeled and chopped ginger into your AeroPress® Coffee Maker.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 23. Next, toss in a small handful of fresh mint leaves.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 34. Then, squeeze the juice from half of a lemon into your AeroPress® Coffee Maker. For extra zing, add a few slices of lemon directly into your brewing vessel.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 45. Then, pour boiling water into your AeroPress® Coffee Maker up to the number four marker.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 56. Let steep for two minutes.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 67. Plunge your AeroPress® Coffee Maker with moderate pressure.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 78. Pour the tea into your favorite mug.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 8

9. Finally, add a big squirt of honey, stir, and enjoy!

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 9
Want to experiment with more delicious Prismo brews? Try our cold brew, full immersion, and “affauxgato” recipes!

Jun Shan Yin Zhen | China’s 10 Most Famous Teas

By | Tea

The rolling hills of China’s southern Yunnan Province have been identified as the birthplace of tea. Anthropologists say here is “where humans figured out that eating tea leaves or brewing a cup could be pleasant.”¹ As the top tea producing country in the world (followed by India and Kenya), the options of Chinese teas are seemingly endless. If you’re new to this vast world of tea and overwhelmed by the available selection, we recommend working your way through the list known as “China’s 10 Most Famous Teas.”

1) Xi Hu Long Jing (Green Tea)
2) Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun (Green Tea)
3) Huang Shan Mao Feng (Green Tea)
4) Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Yellow Tea)
5) Qimen Hong Cha (Black Tea)
6) Wu Yi Da Hong (Wulong/Oolong Tea)
7) Lu An Gua Pian (Green Tea)
8) Anxi Tie Guan Yin (Wulong/Oolong Tea)
9) Tai Ping Hou Kui (Green Tea)
10) Xin Yang Mao Jian (Green Tea)

Each of these famous teas is recognized by its characteristic leaf shape and size, appearance, and taste. In total, there are six green teas, two wulong teas, one black tea, and one yellow. We’ll be highlighting a tea from each of these categories, but first, we’re starting with yellow tea. China is currently the only major producer of yellow teas, and even in China, it is a very rare type. In Tony Gebely’s book Tea: A User’s Guide, “Yellow tea is defined by a unique processing step where small batches of tea leaves are wrapped in cloth bundles after fixing, allowing them to yellow. While wrapped, the leaves turn from green to yellow-green as chlorophylls are broken down. Vegetal flavors mellow and subside, and the tea leaves partially oxidize.”

Chinas 10 Most Famous TeasThe only yellow tea to make the cut for China’s Ten Most Famous Teas is Jun Shan Yin Zhen (or Junshan Silver Needle). This incredibly rare yellow tea originated on Junshan Island in Hunan Province’s Dongting Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in China. Besides this tea, Dongting Lake is famous in Chinese culture as the place of origin of dragon boat racing and is home to the endangered Finless Porpoise.

This is was what the Finless Porpoise looks like in case you were curious. He’s a bonafide day brightener. (Photo Credit: www.china.org.cn)

Jun Shan Yin Zhen is made up purely of hand-sorted buds that are fixed (heated), wrapped in small bundles, and dried. Unlike most black, oolong, and pu’er teas, “yellow teas are not usually rolled or shaped in any way. The original plucking standard is preserved.”² Junshan Island’s soil and climate give the tea a sweet fruit aroma and light sugarcane taste. “The tea’s small growing area and the skill required to make it result in only a small quantity of authentic Jun Shan Yin Zhen produced each year.”³

We used our Raven Stovetop Kettle to brew the Jun Shan Yin Zhen. With Raven’s integrated tea filter, you can heat and steep in the same vessel saving time and cleanup. Since tea is even more sensitive to water temperature than coffee, Raven’s steep-range thermometer helps you dial-in the correct degree point.

Jun Shan Yin Zhen Yellow Tea Chinas 10 Most Famous TeasTea Characteristics

  • Brew Color: Light Yellow
  • Flavor Profile: Light sugarcane
  • Aroma: Sweet fruit

Brew Instructions

  • Add 1-1.5 tsp for every 8 oz of water
  • Heat water to 190°F
  • Steep tea in Raven’s filter for 2 minutes
  • Enjoy!

If you’re interested in brewing Jun Shan Yin Zhen at home, Tea Drunk and Seven Cups both have great options. Happy steeping, friends!


Sources:

  1. Fuller, Thomas (2008-04-21). “A Tea From the Jungle Enriches a Placid Village”. The New York Times. New York. p. A8.
  2. Gebely, Tony (2026). Tea: A User’s Guide. p. 70
  3. Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea. “Jun Shan Yin Zhen Yellow Team”. Tucson, Arizona.

How To Brew Green Tea With Prismo

By | Tea

Prismo swooped into the Fellow-sphere back in July, and we’ve been riding that AeroPress® Coffee Maker attachment high ever since. If you have no clue what we’re talking about, check out Prismo in action first. If you’re already on the pressure actuated train, keep on reading for a recipe straight from Prismo’s utility belt.

Yes, our latest product’s slogan may be “Superpowers for your AeroPress® Coffee Maker,” but coffee isn’t the only hot liquid Prismo brews with finesse. Tea, hot or iced, is on the drink docket as well. Since one of Prismo’s superpowers is its “No Drip Seal,” Prismo creates the perfect seal inside the AeroPress® chamber. This means you can load and steep your hot water and loose leaf without any worries of leaks out of the bottom.

While Prismo can brew any type of tea, we’re letting you in on Fellow’s favorite green tea recipe. We’ve tested and perfected the water, temperature, loose leaf, and stir time ratios. Why? Because we like our tea to taste good, dang it!

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Tea Spotlight: Genmaicha

By | Tea

 

Also known as “popcorn tea” Genmaicha is a green tea blended with brown rice. No, there’s traditionally no popcorn actually in the tea, but this blend is colloquially named popcorn tea for its bits of brown rice that sometimes pop during roasting and look a bit like popcorn.

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