Skip to main content

A proper set-by-step guide

(7 steps) Secrets to maintaining your Chasen and Chashaku so they would last long


It is said that in the origins of the Japanese tea traditions, the Chasen (bamboo whisk) was a one-off tool meant to only serve for one tea ceremony gathering. It would be discarded after the single use. This was a part of the spirit of Japanese hospitality, to serve using tools made and prepared only for that guest.

Fast-forward to today, and our current standards and common sense suggests that this practice of tossing the tool after each use is economically and environmentally unfriendly. Instead, it's important to make sure you take proper care of this natural, delicate, bamboo-based tool so it can serve several months of delicious Matcha before you have to move on to a new one.

In this article we'll go through an easy and detailed step-by-step on how you should take care of your Chasen and Chashaku. We'll also talk about how to use a Chasen-date (Chasen holder, or sometimes also called a Magenaoshi) and why it is important to use one.

The usual caveat - this is not a guide to teaching you the steps in traditional Japanese tea ceremony. This article is meant as a guide for those of you who would like to incorporate Matcha into their normal daily lives.

The steps are based on the steps used for making Usucha Matcha (Thin-tea Matcha). However, the same steps and principles apply when using the Chasen to whisk lattes, milk, chocolate, etc.

The tools we'll be talking about today

There are 3 tools we'll be talking about today. The first one is the "Chasen".

From left to right': Chasen-date, Chasen, and a Chashaku

The Chasen is a bamboo whisk, which is the ideal tool used to mix Matcha. While other methods such as using a milk froth or a shaker may be a temporary alternative, the Chasen makes making Matcha much easier.
You can learn more about the Chasen here.

The second tool is the "Chashaku".

The Chashaku is a bamboo scoop used for measuring the Matha powder required. This is also made from bamboo.
The third tool is the "Chasen-date".
The Chasen-date has several other names such as the "Magenaoshi" or the "Chasen-yasume". We also call it the "Chasen-holder" based on the functionality it fulfills.
Now that we have a grip of the tools which we will use, lets jump right into using these tools in making a Matcha!

Step 0: Prepare a piece of paper towel and a bowl of water

Before you start, there's a few things good to prepare.
Along with all the tools and ingredients required to make your drink, make sure you also prepare a paper towel and bowl of water.
I suggest the bowl to be deep enough that the water won't spill so easily and there's enough space to whisk your Chasen inside. Make sure the bowl contains about 2cm of water or more.
As this article is focused on the maintenance of the tools, we won't go into the details of how to make Matcha itself. If you're interested in this, you can take a look at these pages on how to make Usucha Matha (thin-tea style Matha) and Koicha Matcha (thick-tea style Matcha).

Step 1: Soak Chasen in water before mixing

First you want to moisten the Chasen prongs.
Just take the Chasen and put it gently into the bowl of water with the prongs facing down.
For the longevity of the Chasen, it's important that the prongs don't break. When the Chasen is suddenly used vigorously while the prongs are dry and stiff, they break off quite easily. This is why you want to make sure you soak the prongs into the water for a while before use. By doing so, the prongs absorb the water allowing it to be more elastic.
If you're using the Chasen for the first time and you just took it out of the box, it'll take some time for the bamboo to soak the water. For a new Chasen, it's good to soak it for roughly 20 minutes.
For an already used Chasen, you don't have to soak it for so long. 5 minutes will do.
Once the 5 minutes has passed, you can start to prepare your Matcha.

Step 2: Wipe the Chashaku with a paper towel right after you scoop

After scooping the Matcha powder and placing into the bowl, your Chashaku will have some Matcha powder attached. Take the paper towel and wipe the Matcha powder off of the Chashaku right away.
Bamboo tends to expand when it absorbs water. This is why it's not good practice to wash or rinse the bamboo Chashaku using water.
However, if the Matcha stays on the Chashaku, it becomes a cause of oder as well. So the Matcha needs to be removed completely without using water.
Sometimes the Matcha sticks to the bamboo and becomes difficult to wipe off with just a paper towel. This is why we recommend wiping the Chashaku as fast as possible after usage.
It makes it much easier to maintain clean.

Step 3: When mixing, be gentle on the Chasen

Mixing the Matcha with the Chasen requires some rigorous action.
Ending up with lumps of Matcha powder remaining in the tea, or not getting enough of the froth on top might would be disappointing. You don't want any unsatisfactory tea due to insufficient mixing!
However when doing so, you also have to be careful so that the prongs of the Chasen won't break. When the whisking is too powerful, the prongs may break off or get damaged by the action.
If your Matcha bowl has a rough textured surface, your Chasen may be easier to break than you think! In this case, make sure that you're only lightly scraping the tips of the Chasen with the bottom of the bowl.

Step 4: Rinse the Chasen well in bowl of water

The best way to keep the Chasen away from stains and molds is to rinse away the Matcha right after you mixed.
After you mix the Matcha, even before you start drinking your tea, give your Chasen a quick rinse in a bowl of water. You can conveniently use the bowl of water you prepared when pre-soaking the Chasen before use.
Give it a stir - or a few seconds of whisking - in a similar way you whisk the Matcha. This will quickly remove the Matcha off of the bamboo prongs.
Usually this is already enough to clean the Chasen.

Step 5: If there's any remaining Matcha on the Chasen

Try flipping your Chasen over and see if all the Matcha has been removed. Sometimes you'll see some green stains remaining on the Chasen.
If you do see some lumps of green stuck on the prongs of the Chasen, take your fingers to gently rub and remove them. Once you do so, it's a good idea to dip it into the water again to give it another stir and rinse.

Step 6: Simply place the Chasen on the Chasen holder

Finally, just gently place it upside down onto the Chasen holder. Why is this important?
The Chasen holder is a very simple tool, but its importance cannot be understated. It has two essential functions which help prolong the life of your Chasen.
1. One is that it helps maintain the shape of the Chasen. The Chasen's shape is naturally inclined to straighten out and become it's original straight bamboo form. Once this happens, it's difficult to spread the prongs and make it look like a Chasen again. The shape of the Chasen holder allows the Chasen to maintain the spread.
2. The second function is that it allows the Chasen to be rested upside down with the prongs facing down, right after its use. This allows the water and humidity to trickle down towards the end of the prongs and drop off and dry. More importantly, it keeps the water from trickling up towards the string of the Chasen. When this happens, it can build odor, which is very difficult to remove. The rule of thumb is to avoid the string of the Chasen from getting wet.
When sticking the Chasen into the Chasen-date, make sure the "inner" prongs and the "outer" prongs are aligned properly. When this gets mixed up it can distort the shape of the Chasen.

That's all!

Hope this article is useful in helping your Chasen last longer.