We often get asked (especially at the King’s Cross Market) whether a chasen is really needed for matcha, and how ours are different to some of the cheaper options available.
A chasen is very important if you want to be making good matcha. The prongs, or tines of the whisk help to suspend the matcha powder in the water and create a frothy foam on top. Under or over whisking can affect the flavour for the tea, so whisking buy hand with a chasen is by far the best way to control this. Some companies recommend mixing their matcha with an electric milk frother, and whilst this may be helpful for people with mobility issues, or who lack grip strength, if you are able to use a chasen it tends to produce a much more enjoyable and flavourful bowl of matcha.
There are many places that sell chasen for £15 or £20, and you may wonder why our is more expensive, at £36. Often the cheaper chasen will be made in china, with young bamboo. To produce lots of these whisks quickly the bamboo isn’t dried for a very long time, and thicker pieces are uses. This means that when you buy the chasen it is still in the process of drying out, so will most likely crack relatively soon. The tines will also be thicker (as this makes the chasen easier to make) so it won’t make as smooth a bowl of matcha or froth the matcha as well. Our chasen are all made by hand in Takeyama, in Nara prefecture. Chasen have been made in Takeyama for over 500 years, and it’s estimated that 90% of chasen used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony are made in Takeyama.
If you look at the pictures below, the whisk on the left is shorter and fatter, with straight sides. The prongs are also about the same length as the handle. In comparison the one on the right is thinner and taller, with a more curved shape. The prongs are quite long in comparison to the handle.
The one on the left is a cheap chasen, and the one the right is ours!
Whilst it’s a greater initial investment to buy a nice chasen, it’ll last you longer and make better matcha, so it’s an investment that quickly pays off!