The Chasen Matcha Whisk is one if the most recognisable tea tools, or chadōgu, commonly associated with the preparation matcha green tea. An integral part of the Chanoyu (Japanese Tea Ceremony), the influence of Zen Buddhism is clear in both the Chasen whisks’ design and the way in which they are made.
Despite being over a thousand years old, the design and materials used to make these traditional tea-making tools have barely changed. While this gives them an aesthetic quality that few other modern utensils can match, it does also mean that authentically-made matcha whisks are a little more high maintenance than their contemporary counterparts.
Chasen matcha whisks are made from bamboo and as with anything made from natural materials, they will eventually deteriorate past the point of use. Having said that, a Chasen that has been properly cared for will last significantly longer than those that have not. This is why we have put together a handy 4 step Chasen care guide for those who prefer to prepare their matcha green tea in the traditional way without needing to regularly replace their matcha whisk.
Look After Your Bamboo Chasen Matcha Whisk In 4 Steps
Before we begin, we’d just like to point out that it is completely normal for the Chasen’s core to bloom after several uses. Traditionally, once the core had opened it would be discarded, however, this is not necessary and so long as a whisk is taken care of it, it can be used effectively even when in full bloom.
1: Clean Upon Arrival
As with any new food or drink preparation tool, it is always a good idea to clean a new Chasen matcha whisk before you use it for the first time. Rather than simply running it under water, we recommend filling a bowl (perhaps a Chawan matcha bowl) with clean hot/ boiling water, soaking the whisk in the water for 60 seconds.
You may notice the core loosen a bit after this, but that is fine. In fact, Chasen whisks perform best when their core has opened slightly and flexible. This allows the tines that make up the core to assist with whipping the matcha tea. This is important to drive the oxygen through the liquid. In short, following this step will not only make sure your whisk is clean but will also be ready to make the best matcha tea from its very first use.
2: Allow To Dry Thoroughly
Once washed it is important that Chasen whisks are allowed to air dry fully before being put away. When drying a Chasen whisk, it is better to stand it up on its handle rather than rest it on the tines. Having said that, the best way to dry a matcha whisk is to place it on a matcha whisk holder and leave it to stand. Once dry, the whisk can be put away but should be left on a whisk holder in order to help it keep its shape.
If a bamboo Chasen whisk is not allowed to dry properly, it will not only encourage mould growth but might also cause a whisks’ tines to loosen or fall out. This will not only damage its aesthetic qualities and make the whisk less effective at frothing Matcha tea.
While allowing a whisk to dry properly is a great preventative measure for loose tines, there is no way to ensure that tines never loosen and fall out. Because of this, we recommend Chasen whisks are checked for loose tines before each and every use.
3: Whisk Firmly But Not Forcefully
While matcha whisks are made from strands of bamboo, Chawan bowls are made from thick ceramics and hitting or pressing a Chasen against it repeatedly is going to do far more damage to it than to the bowl. When whisking up matcha teas’ signature foam you want to keep the tines away from the bowl’s bottom and sides as much as possible, so that you can whisk as energetically as you feel is needed.
A good way to ensure that as little whisking as possible is necessary is to put the matcha powder in the bowl before adding water. This allows the water to help whisk the matcha a bit as it is being poured over the top.
4: Wash After Every Use
Bamboo is a naturally fibrous material, which is how a single piece can have so many strips pulled back on it and turned into a whisk with both a core of tightly knotted threads and 100 tines. Unfortunately, this also means that bamboo can absorb quite a lot of moisture, especially once it has been stripped into over 100 individual threads and had its surface area increased.
If the matcha tea it has been used to make is left on the whisk to soak in after use, the whisk will absorb some of it and could be mouldy the next time you come to use it. Washing the whisk in clean water after every use is, therefore, essential if you want a long-lasting bamboo whisk.
To wash you Chasen whisk, simply follow the same process as step one and make sure you repeat step two afterwards as well.
We offer 2 different bamboo whisks here at KINETA; the Japanese Tea Ceremony Bamboo Chasen Matcha Whisk and the Premium Hand-Crafted Japanese Bamboo Chasen Matcha Whisk, which comes in its own gift box. These whisks can be bought individually or as part of several gift sets, all of which can be found on the Kineta shop.