Chasen, whisk for preparing Matcha tea

This Japanese tea powder whisk is an indispensable tool for preparing matcha. It is the essential accessory for treating and diluting the matcha tea powder in the cup. It has the ability to mix the tea evenly, creating a thick but thin foam – similar to a mousse. Chasen for matcha comes from an ancient tradition, which exclusively flourished in Takayama territory, Nara prefecture, over 500 years ago. Today bamboo chasens are very common, made from a single piece of bamboo, divided into a series of delicate bristles, which can vary in number. The chasen is used to stir the matcha powder, until it reaches a frothy, lump-free consistency. Alternatively, the chasen is used to knead the powder, in the case of making thick koicha tea. Chasens can have various shapes and sizes, starting from the standard 80 bristle-teeth ones, up to 100 and 120 bristles. The most obvious difference is the handle, which shows a wider diameter in the whisks with more bristles. The shape of the chasen with the narrow handle and elegantly curved teeth is favored by many tea ceremony schools such as Urasenke and Omotesenke. Since nearly every school has a style, there are dozens of other shapes of chasen, from the sturdy one for kneading powder to the long-handled one for churning tea into bowls. The variety of bamboo also determines the final appearance of the tea whisk, and therefore you can find both white and black or smoked chasen.

How to use chasen for matcha tea

To create Japanese tea with a creamy texture, it is necessary to prepare the right tools, bowl and chasen, while heating the water. You should get the temperature to 70°C (158°F), and then pour the hot water into the bowl. Heat the bristles in the water for 5-10 seconds to soften the bamboo of the whisk and make it flexible for beating the powder. Empty the bowl and dry it, and then sift the matcha into the bowl – to avoid lumps and to ensure a homogeneous foam. Add the hot water, assessing that using too much water makes it difficult to produce a good foam (it is advisable to start with around 70ml and then add as needed). Start flapping the powder, with a movement that reproduces the "W" or the "M", faster and faster. Initially it is a question of mixing the powder with water, making sure that there are no lumps. Next, the movement should be rapid, back and forth using the wrist. The chasen should be kept low and neither the bottom nor the sides of the bowl should be touched. After whisking like this for 20-30 seconds, you should see a froth appear – at this point, slow down the speed and bring the chasen towards the surface of the tea – an action that breaks up larger bubbles turning them in microfoam. We always recommend cleaning the chasen carefully and letting it air dry, to avoid the formation of mold.

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