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How To Get A Nice Froth In Your Maccha

Froth in your maccha

Whenever we try to explain why we strive for a nice froth in our maccha, we like to compare unwhipped and whipped cream: oxygen and texture do magical things. Maccha is such a textural drink, and we often suggest to folks that they drink their maccha in “savoured gulps”, rather than sips, so as to get a nice sense of all that is going on in the tea. The froth truly highlights the tea’s creaminess and brings flavour to more areas of the mouth. Generally speaking, if your goal is like ours, yet you are not getting a nice froth, it’s good to establish some common hurdles to be aware of, and some tips for overcoming them.  Age and authenticity of your maccha, water temperature, ratio of tea to water, and whisking technique all play big roles in achieving that beautiful texture.

Tip #1 – Use a Fresh, Quality Maccha

If your maccha is old, you will find that the rest doesn’t matter. Old maccha smells like old hay and has a bit of a yellowish tinge. And it is incredibly difficult to froth up. We have found that powdered green tea sold as maccha, but made from other leaves like sencha, etc., have a similar appearance. They get large bubbles when you try to froth them up and it slowly dissipates into a film. This can also happen when the maccha is milled to coarse (often for the export market) or when the maccha does not have enough amino acid content (umami, or the lack thereof, a telltale sign).

Tip #2 – Water Temperature Awareness

We also find that when the water temperature is too low (below 40C) or too hot (over 80C) it gets quite challenging to make a froth, although not impossible. We also notice that at hot temperatures the vibrancy of the green will start to pale and have a scorched or dull look. Maccha whisked in too cold of water can still taste lovely even without the nice foam, but it is definitely a different texture, and suffers perhaps from a lower TDS leading to more subdued flavours.  

Tip #3 – Pay Attention to the Ratio of Tea to Water

The ratio of tea to water also plays a larger role than we realized at first. Our recipe is 2g of maccha to 90g of 65C hot water, whisked for 15 seconds. It is based on an Urasenke teacher’s ratio of 1.25g to 60g of water. We can manage 1g into 45g of water, but it is a bit challenging. Larger bowls of maccha can also be a challenge, and do not cool as nicely. We try to keep our water volume somewhere between 50ml and 120ml when making “usu-cha” (trans. “thin tea”) what we internally call “traditional maccha”.

However, ratios are not written in stone, as again, it depends on what you are going for. As an example, we also make a shot for lattes that sits somewhere between a “koi-cha” (trans. “thick tea” – the texture of a thick paint that you slowly sip) and an usu-cha. We shoot for a texture that looks like a nice crema on an espresso, always with a “puffed” looking froth that is nice and fine. The ratio here is 2g of tea to 30g of 65C hot water. For a traditional koi-cha, we use a ratio of 2g of tea to 12g of 100C hot water (the tea slowly worked into the tiny amount of water – no froth).

Tip #4 – Brush up on Your Whisking Technique 

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome for making a nice froth is technique. Whisking on an angle, like when beating eggs or making a meringue, will not produce a froth. Lightly brushing the bottom of the bowl is critical as well. Some folks are scared for the whisk and end up with a sludge at the bottom of the bowl. We like to encourage a “feathering up” of the maccha. Whisk with firm fingers and a loose wrist, but do not annihilate the bowl by whisking too aggressively. Many people who get really good at whisking quickly will inadvertently overextract through whisking to quickly. Also, keeping a nice straight direction, imagining your whisking hand is a pendulum over the bowl, helps to build up froth.

We like to keep the whisking to around 15 seconds, as agitation is a form of extraction, and you can overextract here as well. We like to have a timer counting up as we go, focusing on gathering in the tea for the first 3 seconds, whisking in the centre and vortexing the foam into the middle for 5 seconds, then integrating the froth into a microfoam by sliding instead of sloshing the whisk for the final 7 seconds. Bonus is that when you do this for latte shots as well, the delineation of the latte art gets a marked improvement. 

Use All the Tips For a Beautiful Froth in Your Maccha

 When you have fresh, quality maccha, with a good ratio of tea to water, and you control that water temp to 60~70C, then a good technique is all that is between you and a lovely, creamy froth, that enhances and makes the maccha experience oh so beautiful.     

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