Bamboo Matcha Whisk - The Ultimate Guide
Whether you are preparing a traditional matcha tea, or even a matcha latte with added milk, making sure your matcha is properly whisked is absolutely necessary.
I am going to explain everything you need to know about the Chasen, from how it is made, to using and looking after your Chasen to maximise its life span.
If you are new to matcha (or currently drink matcha, but don't whisk it properly (or at all)), then read on... it will enhance your matcha experience completely!
What is a Chasen?
A Chasen is a traditional Japanese bamboo whisk, that has been used for centuries in tea ceremonies.
It has many fine and delicate curved prongs (or tines) which are designed to mix matcha powder with water into a smooth, frothy and even consistency. This enhances the aroma, texture and most importantly the flavour, so you are getting the most out of your high quality matcha powder!
Do I need a Bamboo Matcha Whisk to Prepare Matcha?
If you are drinking matcha regularly as a tea or even as a matcha latte with milk, I am going to say yes, you should be using a Chasen to whisk.
Properly whisking your matcha is one of the most important steps to ensure you properly experience the full flavour and texture that a high quality matcha powder offers.
Real matcha powder does not dissolve when you add water, therefore it requires whisking to evenly distribute or ‘suspend’ the matcha powder in water. The many fine prongs on a chasen are specifically designed for this exact purpose, while also aerating the liquid, for a pleasant smooth and foamy texture.
A metal kitchen whisk is just too large and too clumsy to perform this task and there is a good chance you will end up with unpleasant clumps in your tea and a green sludge that has settled at the bottom. And believe me, do not bother with a spoon or a fork (shamefully my first experience preparing matcha myself at home involved a fork and it wasn’t pleasant.)
Recently, handheld ‘milk frothers’ have become a popular way to mix matcha, although with very varied results. While these might make it easier to prepare drinks such as matcha lattes, I still find that if I whisk my matcha first with a Chasen, it takes longer for the matcha to settle at the bottom of the cup.
Using a Chasen to prepare matcha enhances the overall experience and gives you a moment to yourself to enjoy the process of making matcha tea.
You may have noticed that there are different types of Chasens, although the most common Chasen you will come across will have 80 prongs and a short handle, and there is good reason for this. It is versatile, the ideal size, comfortable to hold, gives you the most control when whisking and is capable of producing a dense foam.
A Chasen with 60 prongs or less is only suited for making the thicker style of matcha tea known as Koicha, while a Chasen with 100 prongs is only suitable for the regular thin style matcha tea known as Usucha. A Chasen with 80 prongs is capable for preparing both styles with exceptional results.
Longer handle Chasens are designed to reach in deeper bowls or cups, but you lose a lot of control and speed, compared to when using a Chasen with a short handle.
How do I use a Chasen?
It’s actually quite simple to use a Chasen to prepare a delicious Matcha tea.
Start by soaking the prongs in a bowl of warm water for roughly 5 - 10 seconds. This will soften the prongs and make them more flexible and less brittle.
After you have sifted your matcha powder into a matcha bowl (Chawan), add 70ml of hot water.
Now, you may slowly and gently loosen any matcha powder that might be stuck on the side of the bowl with your whisk. Then start moving your whisk in a ‘W’ or ‘M’ motion and build up speed until you are whisking as fast as you can.
You need to whisk in this motion vigorously for at least 20 seconds, while taking care not to hit the bottom or sides of the bowl. After a dense foam has formed you can slow down then remove your whisk.
Now it is time to enjoy your delicious smooth & frothy matcha green tea!
How is a Chasen made?
Each chasen is carefully handcrafted from a single piece of bamboo. One end of the bamboo piece is carved and hollowed out, then divided into sections using a small knife. These sections are then divided again into the final number of prongs (usually 80-100). Finally, the prongs are shaped, with the ends of the outer prongs being curled, and the inner prongs being weaved together in the middle.
The Chasen is a delicate utensil, some care is required when using, cleaning and storing it, to ensure it keeps its shape, prevent mould & maximise its lifespan.
I will break this down into a few sections.
Note: When you first get your chasen, you will notice the ends will be curled and the middle will be tied in a knot, this is how you can tell a Chasen is brand new. However after its first use, the ends will slightly uncurl and the middle knot will come apart. Do not worry, this is perfectly normal and is known as ‘blooming’.
Before each use it is best to soak the prongs of your Chasen to make them more flexible and less likely to break while whisking. I usually do this by pouring some hot water into my matcha bowl and placing the prongs of my bamboo whisk in it for roughly 5-10 seconds.
When preparing matcha, you need to whisk quite vigorously to achieve a dense foam. To avoid breakage when doing so, do not apply downward force and avoid touching the bottom & sides of the bowl.
Cleaning, Drying & Storing Your Chasen
Because a Chasen is made from bamboo, it is prone to mould growing if not cleaned, dried & stored properly.
Clean your Chasen after each use by pouring some clean water in your matcha bowl and whisk it gently until all the powder is removed from the prongs, or by rinsing it under some cold or warm water. It is very important to never use soapy water or a dishwasher to clean your chasen.
To dry your chasen you can carefully pat it dry with a dry cloth or paper towel, then place it on a whisk stand, or stand it up on the handle end, somewhere in the open where air can circulate properly around the prongs. (I personally place my whisk straight onto my whisk stand to dry, without using a towel first, and I have never had a problem with mould.)
Do not try to put your whisk back into the container you received it in, for two reasons:
- There is no room for it to breathe and any moisture stuck inside will encourage mould
- After its first use, the whisk probably isn’t going to fit back into the container anyway and forcing could cause the prongs to break.
Keeping Your Chasen In Shape
Keeping your Chasen in the correct shape is important to ensure it is whisking effectively.
The best way to keep your whisk in shape is to use a whisk stand.
Over time the prongs on a chasen will slowly start to straighten to the original shape of the bamboo. The inner prongs will move outwards and the outer prongs inwards, making the whisk less effective. To prevent this, always keep your Chasen on a whisk stand. A whisk stand is designed to keep your whisk in its ideal curved shape. It also aids in the drying process allowing proper airflow.
If you do not have a whisk stand (although we highly recommend using one), simply stand it up on the handle end of the whisk. Do not lay the whisk on its side or stand it on its prongs, as it will flatten the prongs even quicker.
As shown in the illustration a new Chasen will have very curved prongs, especially the tips. After using it a few times, they tend to straighten out. Keeping it on a whisk stand will keep a nice curved shape and help prevent mould. Without using a whisk stand your Chasen will quickly lose its shape, and making it less effective when whisking. With the prongs all being closer together, it will also be more likely to grow mould.
You should now have all the information you need on using and taking care of your chasen to get the most out of your Matcha Experience. If there’s anything you think I’ve missed or would like to know anything else about the Chasen, let me know in the comments or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bamboo Matcha Whisk (Chasen)
VIEW IN OUR STORE
Matcha Whisk Stand
VIEW IN OUR STORE
So what are you waiting for? Time to Get Whisking!
Remember to sign up to our Matcha Mail to receive 10% OFF your first order and we will keep you up to date with Matcha related information, recipes promotions and more.