Guest Post: The Chasen by Lauren Danson

The next issue of my quarterly journal is going out at the end of April. In it, matcha maven +Lauren Danson of Mizuba Tea Co. will be sharing her experiences sourcing tea in Japan. I’m also excited to share this great guest post that she wrote about the most essential tool for making matcha. To make sure that you don’t miss the journal when it is released, just sign up using the form below!

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Chasens bridge the world of art to the everyday. While fundamentally a utensil, the beauty of the detail, material, and its shape make the whisk a treasure of tradition worthy to keep on display. 
To take good care of your chasen whisk

  • Do not store it in its original plastic container. Because bamboo is a natural material and retains moisture, chasens can occasionally be susceptible to slight molding. No need for concern ­– just be sure your whisk is able to air dry. We store our whisk standing upright on its base in a cool, somewhat dark environment. 
  • Should mold occur, place your chasen in boiling water. 
  • In everyday use, do not wash your chasen with soap. Simply run it under hot water. 

From crafted by artisans, to crafting your tea: How chasens are made, and how to make Matcha with a chasen 
A relatively conservative industry, not many artisans showcase the skill and meticulous finesse it takes to create a chasen whisk. There are six major steps in creating a chasen: 

1) The chasen begins as a single piece of bamboo. The wood is peeled, and cut into 16 equal parts (although this may vary depending on the type of chasen created) to make the whisk’s basic shape. 
2) The parts are cut again into individual tines. 
3) The artist will dip the tines in hot water. They are then shaved, ironed, and shaped. 
4) The tines go through a second process of shaving, making the whisk more angular. The shape helps Matcha not stick to the whisk. 
5) The tines are separated into inner and outer sections by threading each prong individually. 
6) The height and space between tines are determined by inserting a bamboo spoon between the two sections. The final chasen is then arranged into its iconic, beautiful shape. 

Making Matcha with your chasen 
The purpose of a chasen is to aerate your tea to create Matcha’s classic foam and froth.  Place about 1½ chashaku spoonfuls of Matcha in your chawan. Pour just enough ~160-175ºF water over your Matcha to make a paste. Use your chasen to incorporate evenly, breaking down any clumps. Carefully pour ~4-6 ounces of water over your tea, filling your chawan. Sip and enjoy.

Nicole has been writing about her love of the leaf since 2008. Her work has been featured on World Tea News, The Daily Tea, Tea Journey, and other publications. She is the winner of the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog.