What is Koicha and How to Make Koicha

Tea ceremony (chanoyu – 茶の湯) is an essential aspect of Japanese culture. There are two main types of tea ceremony: the informal tea gathering known as chakai (茶会) and the formal one known as chaji (茶事).

Chakai is a relatively simple tea gathering that typically includes some wagashi (Japanese sweets) and thin tea (usucha). It is an informal event where guests can enjoy the company of others while savoring a cup of tea.

Chaji is much more formal than chakai and usually lasts as long as four hours. It consists of a full-course kaiseki meal followed by wagashi, thick tea (koicha), and thin tea (usucha). Between courses, guests can take small breaks to walk around the garden by the Japanese tea house.

When it comes to drinking matcha, many people are familiar with usucha. However, koicha is reserved for the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Additionally, tea masters use only top-grade ceremonial matcha for its preparation.

How to enjoy Koicha?

Koicha is a unique and intense Japanese matcha experience that should be enjoyed properly. When sipping koicha, the tea greets you with a brief moment of intense umami and a long-lingering sweetness. This is similar to gong fu cha, where we intake a concentrate of all the tea’s best qualities in one tiny cup of brew.

To properly enjoy koicha, it is common to pair it with wagashi, the sweet-and-salty traditional Japanese sweets. Drinking it on its own might be too intense, even for experienced matcha connoisseurs. Many Japanese tea cafes serve desserts such as sweet mochi and red beans topped with koicha, and some even offer “koicha affogato,” which is ice cream topped with the thick green tea.

Some believe that koicha is the truest way to experience the quality of matcha to its fullest potential, much like how many tea drinkers believe that gong fu style tea is the only way to honor loose leaf tea. Ultimately, it is up to the drinker to decide. However, we recommend trying koicha at least once for its unique and intense flavor experience.

How to make Koicha?

Preparing a cup of delicious thick koicha tea is easy when you follow these simple step-by-step instructions:

  1. Sift the matcha powder to ensure that there are no lumps.
  2. Add 4 chashaku (4 grams) of the matcha powder into the chawan.
  3. Pour 50ml of hot water into the chawan and whisk using the chasen.

It’s important to note that the whisking style for koicha differs slightly from usucha. To prepare koicha, use a slower motion that involves “massaging” the tea powder rather than just whisking it. This will result in a thick, syrupy consistency and a vibrant green color. Unlike usucha, koicha does not require the same foam.

It’s crucial to use only top-quality ceremonial grade matcha for koicha. Using lower quality matcha will result in a bitter beverage that isn’t enjoyable when consumed in such a concentrated quantity.

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