Chasen were developed to mix our beloved matcha tea. 90% of Japanese whisks are produced in Nara prefecture, not too far from the famous Kyoto! Some chasens are very reasonably priced, whilst others are not. I’ve used both cheap and expensive chasen and have found that the more expensive ones give a much smoother motion, to make the perfect cup of matcha tea. A chasen is made from dried bamboo so it won’t last forever. But if you treat your chasen carefully it can last for a long time – so follow these tips to look after your whisk and live your best matcha life!
Why do the prices vary so much?
Making a chasen is a very labour-intensive process, so if you are buying a whisk from a famous craftsman, you can expect it to be quite pricey. Personally, I’ve found that the stems of cheaper chasen tend to break quite easily (like the one in the picture below) as the producers don’t properly dry the bamboo before carving. Proper chasen producers dry their bamboo outside for the whole of winter, so the bamboo is strong and solid. They only use properly and completely dried bamboo, meaning their chasen last longer. The makers of cheap chasen want to make as many whisks as quickly as possible, so they aren’t bothered whether it will last a long time once it has been sold. I recommend investing in a good chasen, not only will your tea taste better, but it will last you a far longer time.
Why do the tines get damaged?
As they are made of a natural material, over time it is expected for the tines to sustain some damage. But as I mentioned before a properly dried chasen will get damaged less easily. I also recommend using a smooth surfaced bowl, as bowls with a rough texture will wear out the tines much more quickly. Another tip is to stand the chasen in cold water for 5 minutes before using it. Wetting the tines will make them more flexible and help prevent some damage. By wetting them beforehand they will also be protected from being stained green by the matcha powder!
How to maintain/clean your chasen?
I drink a cup of matcha tea every day, and always rinse my chasen with hot water after using. I then put it on a chasen stand so it keeps its shape while drying. Once every few months I use some gentle washing up liquid and a toothbrush to gently clean my chasen, but as it is made of natural material, I wouldn’t recommend doing this frequently.
I also try not to use the same chasen every day, so that they can dry properly and rest a bit. If you drink matcha daily like I do it’s a good idea to have a few chasen that you can rotate between, that way they will all last longer!