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Assessing Cheap Chasen VS Takayama Chasen

How Cheap Chasen can destroy the Matcha taste!

I'll be sharing my past experience and my thoughts on why you should be careful when you go for a cheap Chasen.

Take a minute to Google or go on Lazada to check the prices of Chasen. You'll be surprised at the range! Some of them are cheaper than 10 SGD, but others may cost close to 100 SGD! So the question is, considering the Chasen is a consumable, is it worth buying something so expensive?

My facepalm Chasen experience

So previously when I was looking online to buy a Chasen, I was honestly intrigued by the difference in prices. This was a while back when I was still in Japan.
I ended up buying the cheaper product instead of the expensive one. While I didn't go for the cheapest product in the market, I still went for a relatively low priced Chasen which would amount to about 12 SGD.
There was no mention on where the product was produced, or how it was made. However, the manufacturer seemed to be one specializing in tea tools, which made me feel comfortable to trust this product.
So I tried this Chasen once it had arrived.
The whisking action of this Chasen was very functional and sufficient. I was very satisfied with how I was able to prepare my Matcha.
However, as I drank the Matcha tea, I immediately realized something was wrong.
The Chasen had a strong smell. And it wasn't a good smell at all.
It was a stale smell of old bamboo. Also had an unnatural scent - perhaps coming from chemicals used in the process.
The worst thing was, that the whisking of the Chasen would transfer this smell to the Matcha.
It effected the taste of the Matcha, and made my drink less pleasurable.
I was hoping this smell will reduce after I use the Chasen for a while.
I tried soaking it in the water for an extended period of time as well.
However, it turned out to be that the smell will become worse and more evident.
It will strongly contaminate the taste of the Matcha to an extent that I couldn't finish drinking my Matcha.
This was especially sad because I was using really fine quality Matcha. It made my Matcha go to waste!
Later I looked up more information on the manufacturer of the Chasen. I couldn't find too much information, but I confirmed that it was made in China instead of Japan. From there, I researched and tried different products to learn more about Chasen.
I'll touch on the details below but my conclusion is - it actually takes a long process to create a quality Chasen.
Although this is a generalization where perhaps not all Chasen products may apply, a Chasen aiming for a low price production will not be able to apply a completely chemical-free process to build a sturdy enough Chasen.
So yes, the price counts.

Differences of a cheap Chasen and a Takayama Chasen: External Factors

A cheap Chasen and a Takayama Chasen

The picture here has 2 different Chasen. One is a cheap Chasen, while the other is a quality Takayama Chasen made in Japan.

Can you guess which is which? (It may actually be quite difficult)
The one on the left is a Takayama Chasen from Japan. The one on the right is a cheap Chasen manufactured outside of Japan, in this case China. Both are 100 prongs.
Takayama Chasen Cheap Chasen


68.00 SGD (on our onine shop)

12.90 SGD


Light and clear bamboo color

A slightly redder and stale tint.
(It's a little difficult to tell from the picture)


Exquisite craftsmanship, beautiful form. Overall high consistency.

Some inconsistencies in the bend of the prongs and weave.
Many split edges.

The biggest difference from the external factors is obviously the price. There's a huge difference there.

Outside of that, yes there are notable differences in color of the bamboo and the craftsmanship, but wouldn't look like there would be too much of a functional difference.
This is basically the Information you must depend on when making the purchase of the Chasen either online or at a store. As was the case for me, it's an easy choice to go for the cheaper chasen.

Differences of a cheap Chasen and a Takayama Chasen:
The REAL differences

Let's go into the differences you can't really tell until you actually buy and try the product. The differences are alarming.
Takayama Chasen Cheap Chasen

Chasen Smell

A gentle touch of elegant and classy young bamboo scent.

A pretty strong stale smell of old bamboo.

Chemical Usage

No chemicals used in oil draining process of bamboo.

Possible usage of chemicals in oil draining process of bamboo.
(effects the smell also)

Silica Gel (Desiccants) usage

Not used.

Commonly used.

Matcha Experience

The elegant scent harmonizes with the Matcha.

The scent strongly effects the Matcha in an unpleasant way.

Again, this is based on generalization of a cheap Chasen. However it's good to keep in mind that the differences of the quality of the Chasen is more than meets the eye!

How the bamboo for the Takayama Chasen is prepared

Most of the Chasen built in Japan are made in Takayama of Nara prefecture. This is where the Chasen was first invented more than 500 years ago, and the traditional Chasen building has continued until now.
It is endangered of becoming a lost art, as there are only 17 Chasen craftsman in Japan currently.
So, what is the process that goes into building a Chasen in Japan?
It starts with the choice of bamboo used to create the Chasen. As the bamboos age, it becomes harder and harder until they reach the peak age of around 7. Then from there the strength of the bamboo will gradually weaken. Quality bamboo 2-3 years of age must be chosen for making quality Chasen. Although very rare, the bamboo flowers will occasionally blossom, and this will cause the entire bamboo forest will die. In cases like this the bamboo cannot be used for Chasen.
After harvesting the bamboo, they are first oil drained. For oil draining of bamboo, sodium hydroxide is a common methodology to conduct this.
However for obvious reasons, Takayama Chasen will use a methodologies not relying on non-organic compounds.
The bamboo will subsequently be sun-dried for 2 months time in the cold January to Feburary mountains of Ikoma Takayama. Under this climate, the bamboo strengthens and formulates a beautiful gloss.
It is then stored for 2 years to completely remove the moisture out of the bamboo. Any weak bamboo will break or bend during this period. These will be removed, and only the remaining quality bamboo will be used for Chasen. As the bamboo are completely dry, no silica gels are required when packaging the product. This silica gel also adds a subtle odor to the bamboo.
These bamboo will then be used to be crafted into the magnificent Chasen built by the Chasen craftsman.
So to me, it's quite hard to imagine that a product where even the ingredient bamboo requires such a careful and long time to prepare can be made at a cheap price, and the premium pricing of the Takayama Chasen is quite justifiable.

How to ensure you're buying a quality Chasen?

So how can I ensure that I'm getting a good quality Chasen? Consider a points below.
  1. Transparency on how it is made
    Make sure that they are transparent on the manufacturing process of the Chasen, especially whether they use chemicals or not. If there are no mentions or if they don't disclose, then I would be a little concerned.
    Even if it isn't a Takayama Chasen, being able to disclose such information will be a strong indication of the quality of the Chasen.
  2. Takayama Chasen is the safer bet
    That being said, looking for Takayama Chasen will be the safer bet. While these are a lot more expensive than others, they're very accessible these days. You can go online and find them quite easily. We carry some stock as well, so please have a look at our chasen section. These are all natural products of great quality.