Monday, November 9, 2015

An Introduction to Matcha Tools


Matcha is traditionally used in a formal ceremony in Japan but the same equipment will also serve you just as well for casual drinking at home. These pieces can range from very simple and basic to one-of-a-kind pieces handcrafted by artisans. When you are first starting out, I recommend starting with inexpensive options and then upgrading as your skill level and interest progresses.

Chawan 

First things first, you’ll need something to make your matcha in and to drink it from. Matcha bowls can come in all sorts of shapes, colors and sizes. From traditional and plain to colorful and contemporary, there’s a bowl to suit every taste. The two things that they will all have in common are a wide, flat base and high sides. You may see this style referred to by the Japanese term chawan, which literally means tea bowl. It is common to match the style of the bowl with the season. If you don’t have a chawan any wide bowl, like the type that is used to serve rice, can often work just fine.


Chashaku

The chasaku is used to measure out portions of matcha powder. One and a half to two scoops of tea are generally used when preparing thin tea, also called usucha. They are most commonly made out of bamboo but other types of wood or even ivory can be found. I personally like the authentic look and feel of a bamboo scoop but a teaspoon could do the job just as easily. Tea masters have traditionally carved their own scoops, giving them a poetic name that suits their seasonal identity.

Chasen

The most important tool for making matcha is the whisk. While motorized gadgets and gizmos are available, I find that the taste is very different than when it is traditionally prepared. Each whisk is made from a single piece of bamboo. Isn’t that incredible? Being made of a natural material, they can wear out over time. I’ll be writing a post soon about how to maintain chasens.


Making matcha can seem intimidating but all you really need are these three things and water. That being said, there are a few other accessories that you may find useful as your interest progresses.

Hishaku 

The hishaku is a long ladle that is used to scoop water into the chawan while preparing matcha. I like using them because it takes the guesswork out of the volume of water to use. It took me a while to find one that wasn’t expensive but I’ve been very happy with the one that I found on Amazon.


Kusenaoshi 

The Kusenaoshi is a simple stand that is used to hold the chasen. It helps to shape the tines, improving the longevity of the chasen over time. My whisks definitely maintain their shape better since I’ve started using one.


Furui

Sifting your matcha before whisking can keep it from becoming clumped and in many ways I feel it improves the taste. You can purchase specially made tins with built in sifters but I use an old fashioned stainless steel mesh tea strainer and it works just fine.



Are there any other tools that you use for matcha? Let me know about them in the comments!

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