Matcha clumps in your powder
And why matcha clumps are actually a good thing!
Let’s say you’ve purchased some high-grade matcha powder such as Ocha & Co.'s single cultivar matchabut when you open the packet to make some delicious Japanese matcha, you find that there are some matcha clumps inside. These look like little balls formed out of matcha powder and can be harder to mix into your drink. If this has happened to you, don’t worry, these matcha clumps are actually a sign that your matcha is high quality!
Why does matcha clumping occur though?
To understand why there are matcha clumps, we must first look at the matcha-making process. Put simply, matcha is finely-ground tea leaf that has been cultivated in the shade, which gives it its vibrant green color. Many factors can influence the grade of the matcha such as how and where it is grown and the way it is processed.
In higher-grade matcha, dried tea leaves are stone milled. These stone mills are how matcha was traditionally processed. Using heavy granite blocks, the tea leaves are ground into extremely fine powder through a continuous revolving process. This process is time-consuming and not the most efficient - only producing around 30g of matcha every hour.
The plus side is that stone-milled matcha incorporates easily into water, and retains more of the leaves' original flavor as less heat is generated during the process. However, the downside is that the matcha powder is so fine that they actually have electrostatic forces around them, and these forces are what pull other particles together, forming the matcha clumps we see. So don’t worry when you see matcha clumping in the package, there is quite literally an invisible force at work!
On the flip side, cheaper matcha is usually ball-milled or machine-milled. This is of course a much more efficient process but results in coarser powder. There may be fewer matcha clumps, but because machines generate heat, some flavor is lost during this process. Some manufacturers may also add a flowing agent to stop matcha clumps from forming, resulting in less pure matcha.
How to get rid of matcha clumps
Place the sieve over your tea bowl, and scoop the matcha powder onto it. Shake the sieve to let the fine powder pass through, and you may use your teaspoon or scoop to push the clumps around so they break apart.
Once all the powder is in the tea bowl, add a small amount of water and mix well. This creates a mixture that’s more like paste and allows all the powder to incorporate into the water properly, and you won’t get any leftover clumps floating around.
Matcha clump conclusion
Don’t panic when you see clumps in your matcha, it’s definitely not a sign that something’s wrong. It is in fact, quite the opposite! Now that you know, the next time there are matcha clumps, just grab a sieve and follow our easy tips.