Perhaps nowhere else in the world are tea rituals as detailed, artful and stylized as the Japanese tea ceremony, which is the preparation and presentation of matcha, a powdered green tea. Less often, these tea ceremonies use sencha, a loose-leaf green tea and the most popular tea in Japan.
How to make a proper cup: Attention to detail starts with the very first step when making sencha. Experts recommend using only bottled spring water — not tap water, not hard water and not distilled water.
Next, the temperature: If the water is too hot, it will burn the leaves. If the water is too cool, the tea will be weak; aim for about 175 degrees F. If you're using a high-grade tea, lower the water temperature to about 155 degrees. (These instructions come courtesy of several Japanese tea stores.)
Pour the hot water into the individual teacups you're going to use so the cups will warm and the water will cool. Measure about 2 teaspoons of loose tea for every cup of water into a kyusu, or a small teapot, and fill with boiling water. Let steep for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the type of green tea, then pour into the teacups.
For stronger tea, pour more of the teapot liquid into the cooling water already in the teacup. For weaker tea, pour less. But make sure you pour out every last drop of liquid from the kyusu, and make sure you pour it evenly into all the teacups that need serving.