MATCHA TEA WHISK (CHASEN):
Chasen are bamboo whisks used to prepare matcha. They are hand – carved from a single piece of bamboo.
There are differences in their style according to the type of bamboo they are made from, the shape of the tines, the number of tines, the thickness of the bamboo, the length of the bamboo, the color of the thread that is woven around the bottom of the tines, and so on.
Different schools of chanoyu prefer different styles and employ different styles depending on the particular kind of tea or tea – preparation style for which it is to be used.
For instance, there are specific styles for preparing thin tea (usucha), thick tea (koicha), tea offerings in tenmoku tea bowls, tea in tall cylindrical tea bowls, for including in a portable boxed tea set (chabako), for outdoor tea – making, for New Year’s, and for other special auspicious occasions.
Also, there are styles such as the “Rikyū-gata” the style attributed to Sen Rikyū’s son Dōan and referred to as the “Dōan-gonomi” style, and other such “favored” (konomi) styles of famous tea masters, so that the styles have continued to increase.
Generally, the kind used for whisking thin tea (usucha) has 80, 100, or 120 fine tines.
In the Japanese tea ceremony, it is recommended to use a new chasen on each occasion. However, for casual tea drinkers like ourselves, it is much more economical to reuse.
A small amount of matcha is placed into the bowl, traditionally using a bamboo scoop called a chashaku, and then a modicum of hot (not boiling: 70–85 °C) water is added. The mixture is then whisked to a uniform consistency, using a bamboo whisk known as a “Chasen“.
Taking care of whisk:
The first thing you will need is a whisk keeper. Store your chasen on this device. It will help the bamboo tines keep their shape, prolonging its lifespan.
Secondly, clean it after each use. Make sure it isn’t in contact with moisture for long periods of time. The bamboo can easily grow mold on it otherwise.
Finally, be sure to inspect your chasen before each use for broken tines. More for your own safety, remove any broken parts before whisking.
A brand new chasen will have a core that is twisted around, and tines that curl up at the end. However, after a few uses, the tines will straighten out, and the core will bloom. This is to be expected.