How to Make Iced Matcha: Cold vs Hot Water – Tested

How to make iced matcha

Want to know how to make tea that tastes absolutely delicious?

We tested two ways – using cold and hot water to demystify which one tastes better.

After all, every cup and glass of tea you drink should be delicious.

So, is there a better way to make it in terms or flavour and benefits?

Let's find out.

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What is matcha tea?

Matcha tea is a type of Japanese made from shaded tea leaves. What makes matcha a matcha is not only the shading process, but the use of special tea cultivars and removing all stalks and veins from tea leaves before powdering them.

Tea leaves used for making matcha are called tencha and look like small light flakes. Tencha is now more accessible too, so try it when you have a chance. Especially if you love matcha.

Let's get back to matcha.

Matcha is usually described with three characteristics:

  • Umami
  • Bitterness
  • Sweetness

Umami is a seaweed like flavour that is present in all green teas. It comes from L-theanine, an amino acid specific for plant, and is especially abundant in matcha and green tea. That's why matcha and gyokuro will have more umami then .

Gyokuro is also a shaded tea, but it's produced differently than matcha. It's typically brewed with much cooler water than other green teas.

L-theanine is increased during the shading process, together with caffeine. Two compounds that give bitterness and astringency are caffeine and EGCG. Some of the highest quality matcha teas will have both sweet and umami flavour. Each matcha tea is going to be different and have slightly different ratios of these compounds.

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Ultimately, which one you will like the most will depend on your preferences. If you haven't found the one you like the most, try different types until you find the perfect one.

tea powder

Is matcha produced in other countries?

Until recently, most of the authentic matcha tea was made only in Japan. But it's not only the terroir that's making matcha exclusive and authentic, it the way it is grown and processed as well. Authentic matcha always tastes different from the non-authentic tea and is easily recognizable based on colour and texture.

However, today there are other countries that are producing matcha tea that's as authentic as the real matcha – but with a slightly different flavour profile that matches the terroir where they are grown.  

Terroir is an environment where the tea is produced and includes climate, soil and other environmental conditions. That's why 2 teas from different countries, even if they are produced from the same tea cultivar and in the same way, will always taste different.

Which matcha is the best for making ?

Iced matcha is just amazing for spring and summer days and it's very easy to prepare.

making iced matcha with cold vs hot water

You can use any matcha to make an iced tea, even matcha produced in countries besides Japan, as long as it has a vibrant, green and fresh scent and appearance. There's no right or wrong in choosing the perfect matcha, but you should always enjoy your tea.

Many packaging and descriptions will not state the type of cultivar or additional information about how it was produced. In fact, these matter little, unless you are a tea connoisseur on a quest to try every type of matcha in the world.

As long as it's made from quality leaves and it was shaded, stored properly and ground into a very fine powder, your matcha will provide both benefits and will taste delicious. Some teas may have a fresher flavour and scent, the others may have a stronger sweet and umami taste.

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You don't need to use ceremonial grade matcha for making iced matcha. grades will be fine as well. You can add other condiments and powder too, to add other flavour notes such as honey, berries or even cinnamon.

Which utensils do you need for making iced matcha?

Traditionally, matcha is prepared with hot water, using special matcha utensils – chawan, chashaku and chasen. While you can replace chawan and chashaku, chasen is a must for making traditional matcha. Thankfully, there are no strict rules on how to make iced matcha. In fact, an electric hand frother may be a better option as it will make preparation super easy and convenient.

You may even make it with no utensils, using a shaker bottle or mason jar with a tightly closed lid. However, we recommend investing in an electric hand frother, especially if you love drinking matcha lattes too.

Another great utensils to have and use is a small sifter. Sifting matcha is a must step if you want to avoid lumps.

cold vs hot water

Hot or cold water for matcha – which is better?

Depending on which flavour you enjoy the most and the type of matcha you are using, both ways may, in fact, be a great option.

For this flavour test, iced matcha teas were made:

  1. Using 50 ml of water – one was boiled and cooled to 80 degrees and the other was cold filtered water.
  2. Tea was sifted into a smaller glass.
  3. After pouring either hot or cold water, it was whisked using a hand frother.
  4. Glasses were filled with ice and topped with cold water.

So, what did they taste like?

Iced matcha made with cold water only

Matcha made with cold water only has a lighter, more powdery flavour than matcha made with hot water. It's fresher, grassier, and it had slightly more froth than a matcha made with hot water. This tea is lighter and sweeter and easier to make, as there you don't need to boil the water first. It also has some astringency, but that astringency was light as well.  

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Iced matcha with cold water
Iced matcha with cold water

Iced matcha made with hot water

Matcha made with hot water has a deeper, more complex flavour, with slightly more bitterness, but also more depth. It's also more difficult to make, as it will require additional steps and you should be careful about the water temperature not to intensify the bitterness. However, if you are an avid matcha drinker, you may prefer this style of making iced matcha.

Iced matcha with hot water
Iced matcha with hot water

Which matcha will provide more benefits?

The benefits of any tea will depend not only on the type of tea but also on the way you prepare it.

Matcha is not only delicious, it's also famous for its potential health benefits and energy boost.

Shading process increases the caffeine and L-theanine content in matcha tea (1), making it a really excellent alternative to a regular cup of coffee. Matcha contains catechins too, which may provide an anti-oxidative boost, provide an inti-inflammatory activity, lower blood pressure and improve memory (2).

If you want to maximise the potential benefits, always follow the brewing recommendations.

Usually, steeping time and water temperature both play an important role in extracting the nutrients from tea leaves. Is that the case with matcha too?

Matcha tea is a powder, so you can't steep it like regular loose tea or a tea bag.

However, studies suggest that even though there is no steeping time for making matcha and therefore the time won't influence the benefits, water temperature will (3). Making matcha with boiling water will make it really bitter, so the next best option is to use the recommended temperature – 80 degrees Celsius.

In terms of providing more potential health benefits, making iced matcha with hot water first may be a slightly better choice.

iced matcha with cold and hot water

Final thoughts on how to make iced matcha

Iced matcha is really delicious, and it may offer refreshment, energy boost and many other benefits. Making an iced matcha tea is easy and convenient since you don't need all the utensils. However, when choosing the right method, keep in mind the desired flavour profile and potential benefits. Iced matcha made with cold water and iced matcha made with hot water taste very similar. Unless you are a regular matcha drinker, you may not notice the difference at all as both will taste great.

Sources:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213777/

(2) https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3417/11/11/5087/htm

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7796401/

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