Learn all you need to know about Matcha Whisk

By now I’m sure all of you have seen pictures of videos of people preparing bowls of matcha tea. You may be wondering, what’s that Matcha Whisk they are using called? It’s called the chasen or bamboo matcha whisk, and in this article, we’re going to teach you all about it.

We’re going to start by briefly discussing the design and advantages of the whisk, then we will go into more detail about how to use it. By the time you finish this article, you should be able to prepare your own perfect bowl of matcha tea, just like they do in the Japanese tea ceremony.

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Everything You Need to Know About Matcha Whisks Video

 

What is the matcha whisk?

The matcha whisk is the ultimate tool for whisking matcha. It’s made out of a single piece of bamboo and the 80-100 small bristles are individually carved in painstaking detail. If you look at the handle of a matcha whisk, you can see that it clearly resembles a stalk of bamboo, and as you go up the length of the whisk, you will notice the stalk of bamboo is split and divided many times over.


The second thing you may notice when you look at the matcha bamboo whisk is the thread which is carefully weaved in between the bristles. This alternates to separate the interior bristles and the exterior bristles of the matcha whisk. If you look even more carefully, you will notice there is a difference in thickness between the base of the bristle and the top of the bristle. These bristles are carefully carved into a thinner shape towards the top so they are delicate enough to curl. A brand new matcha whisk will have these curls on top of the bristles, but these will soon disappear after they are exposed to hot water. The matcha bamboo whisk is incredibly light and easy to move even with small wrist movements.


What is the benefit of using the matcha bamboo whisk

Although this matcha bamboo whisk seems to be old fashioned, there still is no better tool when it comes to whisking a bowl of matcha. When it comes to matcha, what you really want is this light green foam on top of the tea. This can only be achieved by quickly aerating the tea, and creating these small bubbles very quickly. The foam gives the matcha a smoother and creamier taste and makes it almost like a latte, but without any milk or sugar. The bamboo whisk appears to be a much better tool when compared to a metal whisk.


We have tested this chasen whisk side by side with other tools and it produces more foam. When it comes to whisking a matcha, it’s not just about mixing the matcha into the water, it’s also about creating that smooth foam on top that can really enhance the drinking experience. A metal whisk can mix the powder into the water, but it struggles to accomplish the same level of foam you get with a matcha bamboo whisk.


Another benefit of the matcha whisk is that it is completely silent. A lot of people like to whisk up their bowl of matcha in the morning, and the sounds of this delicate bamboo whisk moving through the foam can be quite soothing in the morning. Contrast that to the sound of a metal whisk scraping against the sides of the bowls, and you will get a picture of just how different these two tools are.


A third benefit to using the bamboo whisk is that it allows you to properly practice some of the steps and principles of the Japanese tea ceremony. A big part of the Japanese tea ceremony is learning how to use and maintain these tea utensils properly. These tea utensils need to be carefully cleaned or purified before use and some like the bamboo whisk need to be presoaked. This represents one of the core concepts of the tea ceremony which is “purity”. In addition to helping you learn more about the Japanese tea ceremony, the chasen also teaches you patience. It may not be the fastest way to prepare tea, but it certainly makes you appreciate the bowl of matcha even more when you make it yourself.


After learning the art of using the matcha whisk, you will be able to invite friends over and treat them to their very own tea ceremony. The value of this experience is signified by the use of these traditional utensils, and some of the experience may be lost if you just use an egg whisk to mix up some matcha in a bowl.


What is the history of the matcha whisk

The Chasen matcha whisk was carved as far back as 600 years ago, during the Muromachi period. Originally, the tea ceremony was reserved for the elite societies in Japan, and was inaccessible for most of the common people. A man known as Murata Juko wanted to change that, and laid forth principles of Wabi-cha or the simple tea ceremony. As part of this tea ceremony for the people, he had to commission the design of matcha whisks that could be used by people all over Japan to whisk beautiful bowls of matcha tea on their own.


Takayama Minbunojo Nyudo Sosetsu was chosen to craft these chasen matcha whisks for the Japanese tea ceremony. These whisks turned out to be so well crafted that in addition to being used for this tea ceremony, they were also gifted to the emperor who was impressed by their quality. He gave it the name “Takaho” and this became the gold standard for the matcha whisk in Japan. This chasen overtime became known as the Takayama Chasen because of the area it was produced in, and still to this day the village of Takayama has the reputation for producing the best quality matcha whisks.

 

What other matcha utensils are used alongside the matcha whisk

In addition to the chasen or matcha whisk, there are several other important tools used in the tea ceremony. Just like with the chasen, the use of all these tools reinforces certain behaviors that enhance the experience of the tea ceremony, and help to promote a stronger bond between the host and their guest. 

Chawan Matcha Bowl

This is the clay tea bowl used to prepare the matcha. It is usually designed with a colorful pattern on the side. It is considered polite to turn this decorated side to the other guests during the tea ceremony as a sign of respect. This allows them to view the most beautiful side of the bowl as you drink. The bowl is heavy and conveys a sense of importance. It is meant to be held with two hands and it is preheated before use. This warms up the clay, and allows the matcha tea to stay warmer for longer.

Chashaku

This is the bamboo spoon used to scoop the tea powder into the bowl. It has a much simpler design compared to the chasen, but it actually does have some notable features to it. The scoop is designed to be used vertically so it can dip into a cylindrical container and pull out the perfect amount of matcha powder. In the tea ceremony, the tea master will use 2 large chashaku scoops for a bowl of matcha which comes out to about 2 grams of matcha powder.

Furui

This sifter is not typically used in the japanese tea ceremony, but it is recommended if you are making matcha at home. Matcha powder is incredibly fine and therefore it is sensitive to humidity. Once the matcha powder is exposed to the air it will begin to form clumps and not mix as evenly into the water. You can remove these by running the powder through a sifter before you prepare your matcha bowl.

Fukusa

This is a cloth really only used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It’s used to clean off the dry tea utensils and symbolically “purify” them before beginning the tea ceremony. This is purposefully done in front of the guests to show them the objects have been purified before they are used to prepare tea. The cloth can be kept around the belt of the tea master and it is folded and unfolded in a particular way each time it is used.

Chakin

This is a different cloth used in the japanese tea ceremony. This is used to clean off the wet tea utensils, such as the chawan. After the chawan has been preheated with warm water, it is wiped dry with the chakin.

Kama

This is the iron pot that heats water for the Japanese tea ceremony. Inside the tatami mat, there is a perfect square carved out and surrounded by a heat resistant material. This is where the iron pot is kept and heated during the japanese tea ceremony.

Hishaku

This is the long bamboo ladle used to scoop water out of the kama and pour it into the matcha bowl. The tea master carefully tilts this ladle to pour it, so that it trickles down slowly into the bowl and cools off on the way down.

Natsume

This is the so-called “tea caddy” that is used to store the matcha powder in the short term. The matcha powder will be sifted into this natsume and then brought into the tea room to be prepared.

Kensui

This is the waste water bowl where the extra water used in the tea ceremony can be discarded. An example of this is when the matcha bowl is preheated and then the water used is discarded once it has transferred some of its heat to the clay bowl.

 

How to Whisk Matcha and How to use the Bamboo Matcha Whisk

Using the matcha whisk appears simple on the surface, but it can take years to master. This is one of the reasons why there are schools dedicated to learning the concepts and techniques of the Japanese tea ceremony. When it comes to using the matcha whisk for daily use, it becomes much easier.
First you can get out a matcha bowl. A chawan is definitely a good thing to have, but if you don’t have one any bowl will do for now.


Next you can sift in 1-2 grams of matcha powder. You may want to start out with just 1 gram of matcha powder until you get used to the flavor. If you dont have a scale at home, you can measure out ½ to 1 teaspoon of matcha powder, as this will be the equivalent of 1-2 grams.


Next, add a tiny splash of water, just enough to blend the matcha powder into a paste. This is an additional step that can be added in to ensure there are no clumps forming in your matcha, and doing this can make sure that your matcha mixes in much more evenly into the water. During some special tea ceremonies, this paste will actually be drunk like this and it is referred to as “koicha”. In this case we are making “usucha” or drinking matcha, so we have a bit more work to do.


After the paste has been created, you can add in 100 millileters of water or about ¼ cup. When it comes to temperature, matcha tea is less sensitive, but it still works best anywhere in between 60-75 degrees celsius which is 140-170 degrees fahrenheit. If you use water that is too hot, the tea can become bitter and if the water is too cold it can be harder to mix it.


Next you can take your matcha whisk and begin to scrape off the sides of the tea bowl. At this stage, all we are doing is mixing the matcha powder into the water. Just make sure there is nothing stuck to the sides of the bowl, and very gently scrape any that might be stuck to the bottom.


Once the matcha powder is combined into the water, you can begin your whisking. Keep the whisk completely vertical and mix it in quick zigzag motions. It should take about 30 seconds of these rapid movements to really get a good foam on top of the matcha. If you notice larger bubbles on the top of your matcha, you can pop these with the bristles of the bamboo tea whisk.


Now your matcha is ready to drink! You may notice that the well made foam really makes a difference when it comes to the overall drinking experience of your matcha tea. This beautiful top foam is all made possible by the bamboo whisk, and of course lots of hard work!

 

How to clean matcha whisk

When it comes to cleaning your matcha whisk, there are two main things you can do. First, make sure you are quickly rinsing off your matcha whisk before and after use. This can be done by either running hot water over it, or simply swishing it around in a glass of water to clean it. You want to make sure you are not putting your matcha whisk away dirty, because this will really damage it over time. Ideally, your matcha whisk will also be put away dry, but if it is hard to dry it out without breaking the bristles, just make sure to keep it in a dry cabinet.


In addition to quickly rinsing the matcha bamboo whisk in between uses, you can also occasionally do a more thorough cleaning. The best tool to use for this is something like an old toothbrush. This allows you to easily clean in between the bristles without breaking them. This can greatly reduce the staining over time and remove staining that has already formed. If you follow these tips you should be able to keep your matcha whisk looking clean and new for years to come!


How to whisk matcha without a chasen

Although the chasen matcha whisk really is the best tool when it comes to creating that foam on top of a matcha, there are a few things you can use instead if you don’t have one. These tools all work, but they each come with their own drawbacks.

Metal Whisk: The metal whisk is perhaps the first thing people think of when it comes to a matcha whisk replacement. It does a good job when it comes to mixing the powder into the water, but it is actually quite difficult to create that foam on top of the matcha tea.


Shaker Jar: We have seen some people that like to make matcha in a jar by shaking it up with water. This actually works very well when it comes to making a foam on the matcha, but not so well when it comes to removing the clumps in a matcha. These clumps really affect the drinking experience of the matcha tea, with some sips containing lots of clumps and other sips of the tea tasting watered down. To make sure there is an even mix of the matcha, we recommend carefully sifting the matcha powder into the jar before shaking, or pouring it through a sifter afterwards.


Electric Whisk/ Milk frother: Perhaps the best alternative is the electric whisk or milk frother. This does a decent job at creating that foam on top and it can also help remove some of the clumps in the matcha tea. The drawback is you need to keep it charged and it can be as expensive as the bamboo whisk. If you are going to buy either a milk frother or a bamboo whisk, we recommend that you just go for the matcha whisk.


Which matcha whisk should you get?

There are a few different designs of matcha whisks you may be looking at. The first thing to consider is how many bristles you want on your whisk. The higher bristle count will often be accompanied by a higher price tag but some tea masters swear it makes a difference. When you are just starting out, it is fine to go for the 80 bristle matcha whisk and you can reassess after you’ve had some experience whisking matcha tea.


Another category you might look into is the matcha whisks that have an elongated handle. These can be good if you plan on whisking matcha in a glass and not in the traditional tea bowl. If you would like to make the experience as close as possible to the Japanese tea ceremony, we recommend you go for the matcha bamboo whisk and whisk the tea in a matcha bowl.

 

Where can you buy a matcha whisk

matcha whisk

If you are looking to get your own matcha whisk, you can find them on our website. You can pick one up individually, but what is even more fun is getting one included in a bundle. With this bundle of the 21 matcha sampler, you can try 21 different types of matcha tea and get the matcha bamboo whisk added in, allowing you to prepare all these matcha teas the proper way. We’ll also throw in the chashaku bamboo matcha spoon, to enhance your tea making experience even further, making every day feel like you are in a Japanese tea ceremony.


Taking care of your matcha whisk

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to taking care of your matcha whisk. The first is that you want to protect the fragile bristles and prevent them from breaking. The second is that you want to try your best to maintain the general shape of your matcha bamboo whisk so that it serves its intended purpose.


When it comes to preventing the whisk from breaking, one thing you can do is make sure you soak the matcha bamboo whisk for just 1-2 minute before using it. When wood becomes wet, it also becomes more pliable and less likely to break. These bristles are very brittle when dry but they can be quite pliable when they are wet. When whisking the matcha tea, also make sure to keep the whisk from hitting the bottom of the bowl. You should just need a series of light wrist movements towards the surface of the matcha in order to produce the foam.


When it comes to maintaining the shape of the tea whisk, what you may want to invest in is the chasen-tate or matcha bamboo whisk stand. This is just a small ceramic whisk stand that you can place your matcha whisk in after use to help maintain its shape. This is definitely not something you need, but it may pay off in the long run, as it can help to maintain the shape of your whisk for years. If you decide not to get one of these whisk stands, what you can do instead is just keep the matcha whisk standing up straight on the circular handle, and not put any pressure on the bristles. If the whisk lies face down for extended periods of time, eventually the bristles will become misshapen.