The Bamboo Whisk
The Ultimate Guide to Chasen (2021)
The most important component of preparing a delicious cup of Matcha is obviously the Matcha powder. The second most important component? I'd argue that it's the Chasen that you use to mix the powder with. Here we'll go over all you need to know about this essential Matcha tool.
When I just got started with Matcha, I remember thinking that any Chasen would be sufficient to froth-up a nice cup of tea.
Back then I decided to buy the cheapest one I could find online, and boy was that a mistake! Although the Chasen I bought looked nice and functional, it ended up destroying the precious taste of my quality Matcha powder!
Chasen is indeed more than meets the eyes. How you choose the Chasen have different implications, but it's hard to find this information online. Here we'll cover everything you need to know so you won't make the same mistake I did!
What is a Chasen and what does it do?
Firstly, let's get the easy part out of the way. The definition of Chasen.
What is a Chasen?
Chasen is a traditional Japanese whisk made from Bamboo, used to mix the Matcha powder and water to make Matcha tea.
A Chasen looks like this. It is indeed a beautiful tool which is handcrafted from a piece of bamboo. One side of the bamboo remains as a handle, and the other side is broken down into several prongs.
A Chasen used to prepare Matcha
It's an extremely functional tool which helps the Matcha powder completely dissolve in the water. The strength and pliability of each of the prongs allows a whipping action ideal for frothing the tea.
It’s one of the most essential tools required for preparing Usucha style Matcha (or thin tea style Matcha), as it also helps create the rich layer of bubbles that makes a frothy Matcha so delicious.
It would be extremely difficult to make this layer of bubbles without.
Functions of the Chasen:
- Completely mix the Matcha powder with the hot water.
- Build the rich layer of bubbles.
While the bamboo is a relatively durable material, it is still only a natural material which will weaken and break in time. While this is unavoidable, the length of use can be prolonged with proper care. Let's go over some of the key points for maintaining a Chasen.
3 points for Chasen Maintinance
- Soak in water before use
- Do not wash with soap
- Use a Chasen holder or a "Chasen-date"
Soak it in water before use
Be sure to soak the Chasen in water before use. The Chasen is very fragile, and the prongs will easily break off. Soaking the Chasen in water will allow the prongs to bend more easily, reducing the chances of breaking.
Allowing the prongs to bend is also important to mix the Matcha well. Matcha powder is difficult to completely dissolve in water and will need speed and force for this to happen. When the Matcha is whisked, the prongs of the Chasen should bend as if to be whipping the air into the Matcha. This allows the Matcha powder to completely dissolve and create the reach layer of bubbles on the top of the Matcha.
If the Chasen is New
If the Chasen is one that you just bought, make sure you soak it for about 20 minutes. Once done, wipe it off with a towel.
Do not wash with soap
The Chasen is extremely delicate. You shouldn’t use soap or sponge to rub off any of the left over Matcha particles. Once you’ve finished using your Chasen, it should be cleaned and dried as fast as possible. Use warm water to rinse the Chasen, and if there are any Matcha powder that does not come off, use your hand to gently remove it.
The easy way to do this is to have a pre-prepared bowl of warm water. After mixing the Matcha with the Chasen, you can immediately take the Chasen and rinse the prongs in the water. If this is done immediately, it should easily be able to take off all the Matcha from the prongs.
Once it’s clean, organize the shape, and leave it to dry. Don’t let it dry directly under the sun, as it will damage the Chasen as well. A shaded area in an open space is ideal.
Use a Chasen holder, or a Chasen-date
A Chasen holder or a "Chasen date" is a fantastic tool to preserve the life of a Chasen. It's a tool that allows the Chasen to face upside down as it dries.
The Chasen-date is important for 2 reasons.
First, it allows the Chasen to dry with the prongs facing down. If the Chasen is stored by being placed on it's handle upside down, the Chasen can start to smell. This is because while the Chasen is drying, the water will trickle down to the strings, and over time, it will collect order. The basic rule of maintaining a Chasen is to not allow the string to get wet. The Chasen holder makes it very easy to achieve this.
The second reason is because it keeps the shape of the Chasen from collapsing. As you can see, the prongs of the Chasen are spread out like a flower to make a beautiful curving form. When this isn't dried on a Chasen holder, the prongs will start to straighten out and close again. The elegant spread of the prongs will reduce, to a point that the Chasen's prongs will close back to as straight as a normal bamboo again!
I think it's easy to see why we always recommend purchasing the Chasen-date with the Chasen.
To use the Chasen-date, it's really easy. After using the Chasen, just rinse the Chasen with water, and just place it on the Chasen-date, facing down, and allow it to dry. Simple as that!
Using Chasen to Make Matcha
The use of Chasen for making Matcha will differ depending on the type of Matcha you make. You can refer to the following pages on the details of how to make Matcha using a Chasen.
Since the bristles of the Chasen are still delicate by nature, when mixing the Matcha, do so gently and avoid pushing the prongs into the base of the bowl.
Types of Chasen
There is a variety of types when it comes to Chasen, and the differences will be the number of prongs they have.
For the Chasen with fewer prongs, each prong will be stronger and stiff. It will become more difficult to whisk, but easier to knead. The Chasen will be more durable and will perhaps last longer. If the Chasen has more prongs, each of the prongs will become thin. It will become easier to create the whipping action to whisk, but they may break easier.
From this, generally you would use a Chasen with more bristles for Usucha, and one with less bristles for Koicha.
For a beginner, a Chasen with 80 or 100 bristles is recommended for preparing Usucha. This allows for the most air to be whipped into the Matcha.
There are Chasen with more bristles (such as ones with 120) but this is also for advanced users as it is much easier to break. For Koicha, a Chasen with 80 bristles is appropriate.
|Number of Prongs||Name of Chasen|
Why Should I go for a Quality Chasen?
When you look at the Chasen online, you'll notice a huge difference in prices.
The Chasen from Japan will mostly come from Takayama of Nara prefecture. This is where they have been traditionally building Chasen for 500 years, and will be much more expensive than the others.
On the other hand, the Chasen from China will be much much cheaper.
So what is the biggest difference?
After trying out different types of Chasen both cheap and expensive, I've learned that the biggest difference is in the scent and taste the Chasen leaves in the Matcha.
Yes, the Chasen will effect the taste.
The cheaper Chasen uses chemicals in different phases of the manufacturing process, whether it be during draining the oil from the bamboo, or using silica gel as moisture absorbants in the packaging.
The Chasen made in Japan go through extensive natural processes to avoid using these artificial components that effect the taste of the tea. The oil draning will be done purely naturally, and the bamboo will go through multiple years of storage to strengthen and dry so no silica gel is required.
The quality Chasen boast an elegant and classy scent of the natural bamboo as opposed to that of a cheap Chasen, which has more of a stale and dusty smell, resembling an old tatami flooring.
This taste sticks to the Matcha when you whisk and really effects the taste of the tea.
If you're getting quality Matcha to enjoy from authentic Matcha shops (like Tealife!) then you should definitely not waste your Matcha powder by buying cheap Chasen.
Go for the quality Chasen.
Our Chasen Selection
We decided to carry Chasen to ensure that you have a choice of quality Chasen which is completely natural and doesn't use any chemicals. Take a look!