The Cuzen Matcha Maker is a $369 kitchen appliance with one job: to whisk up a freshly ground serving of the bright-green Japanese signature tea. It's expensive, it's beautiful, and it delivers one heck of a tasty cup of nutrient-packed tea.
If you're looking for something to give your caffeine routine a jolt -- and if you really like green tea -- this little machine is a glorious treat. To understand why, you need to realize matcha isn't a typical green tea. There's no bag you throw into water. Matcha is sold in stores as an ultrafine powder, ground from a particular type of tea leaf from Japan. Crafting it involves precise measurements, sifting and rapid flicks of a bamboo whisk to create the right froth.
The Cuzen machine handles that whole process for you, but it takes things a step further by doing something you can't do at home: It grinds matcha leaves into a powder with every brew, making each serving an especially aromatic and umami-rich experience.
If you're going to drop $369 on it, you should know it does a good job at its one job.
Breaking down the brew
Buying the Cuzen brings with it a starter pack of chopped matcha tea leaves (about 60 cups worth). The dry leaves are stored in a sealed cylinder on top of the machine, awaiting your next brew.
To begin, all you have to do is pour a little cool water into a clear, plastic cup at the base. Then you choose how much matcha you'll want the ceramic mill to grind: a single serving, a serving and a half, or a double shot. Hit start, and hidden magnets at the base spin a whisk in the cup, swirling the water as minuscule green particles fall into the drink.
A single shot takes a minute and a half. A double shot takes three minutes to blend. A beep tells you when it's time to behold the frothy cup of jade, which you can drink straight, mix with hot water, or mix with milk as a latte.
There's also a setting where you can just have the machine grind the leaves into a dry cup without making a drink. That's good if you want to use the powder for baking, or if you want to whisk it yourself.
Why all the fuss about matcha?
Freshly ground matcha makes a difference in taste and smell (much like freshly ground coffee beans). But it's also said to make a difference in color quality and in the nutrients it can hold on to, compared with preground powder sitting on a shelf.
Matcha is grown in a unique way in one region of Japan. It packs a similar amount of caffeine to coffee, but with added antioxidants and nutrients said to give you a sustained energy boost without the crash. (I'm sure everyone is different, but I don't feel the typical coffee crash when I drink matcha.)
Thein Las Vegas in January of 2020. It seemed beautiful and curious then. A pricey machine for just one type of fancy tea?
But after months of the collective nightmare that is 2020, this machine's mission shines bright. Casual visits to a corner cafe aren't my thing right now. My "break room" is a cluttered kitchen. And when I'm between conference calls and juggling the needs of two small kids, I'm not about to embark on a ceremonial tea journey with a bamboo whisk. Just give me a button. I need something to keep me focused and feeling good, fast.
I've always been a big fan of matcha tea. I love it's earthy, umami taste. I love how it smells like fresh-cut grass, and I love the way it makes me feel. I'm the kind of person who used to just walk into a tea shop and buy random tea trinkets as my retail therapy. But I don't live a life right now that can dedicate time to the art of the brew. This trinket solves that problem for me.
Matcha, matcha man
So where are you going to get this special chopped up matcha that works in the machine? You can't buy unground matcha at a store, unless you have some sort of tea supplier hookup. (A matcha man, if you will.)
For everyone else, you'll have to buy more leaves online from the Cuzen company. (It ships leaves to 10 countries, including the UK and Australia, but only sells the machine in the US.) It sells two grades of matcha in bags: the cheaper "signature" blend at $20 (makes about 20 servings) and the "premium" grade for $10 more. Both are good, but the premium is so smooth I can just chug it straight -- it's not bitter in the least.
The company is working on a subscription service to buy in bulk at a discount.
You can't put just any tea leaf inside the Cuzen. The mill is specially designed to crush the provided matcha leaves. Other tea leaves could hold more moisture, which could damage the machine, not to mention it wouldn't taste like matcha.
No mess, no stress
The only daily cleanup needed is to rinse the cup and whisk, which easily pops out. It's not something you should put in a dishwasher. You'll also find a few particles of powder that flick outside the cup and need to be wiped away.
The ceramic mill does come apart for occasional cleaning (if needed, every month or so), and detailed directions are provided for disassembling.
The only real mess is trying to dance around justifying that $369 price tag. I'm not spending on many luxuries or outings these days, so it doesn't seem so out of place to look for an indoor treat as a mental getaway. It certainly breaks up the usual grind.