From time to time, I hear about someone who is concerned over their chasen. The brand new $20 tea whisk they just bought is losing its shape after only a couple uses.

Is this you? If so, take a deep breath, it’s okay. πŸ™‚

Chasen in Bloom

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. The image below shows three chasen in various stages of use.

old and new chasen japanese tea whisk

The whisk in the centre has never been used, the one on the left has been used only a few times, and the one on the right has been heavily used. (It’s important to note that the chasen on the left has less tines than the other two. Nonetheless, it illustrates the typical image of a whisk that has been used less than 10 times.)

Taking Care of Your Whisk

Fortunately, it is relatively simple to look after a chasen.

  • 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, as accidentally drinking a piece of bamboo will not be a pleasant experience.

Wrapping it Up

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. But when it is time to finally retire your whisk, what should you do with it? The forum has some interesting answers – check out the thread. πŸ™‚

Griff is the co-founder of The Art of Japanese Green Tea website and video series.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Simon

    Hi, I just used my chasen for the first time so this is a useful article in terms of what to expect over the life of my chasen, but you skim over how to clean it…

    Is it as simple as rinsing under cold water, or should it be more elaborate such as whisking in hot, clean water?

    I’m guessing no need for soaps and detergents?

    Thanks, I’m gonna go read more of the site now πŸ™‚

    1. Griff

      Hey Simon πŸ™‚

      I find that whisking hot water gets most of the matcha/foam off, but doesn’t do a good enough job on its own. You can still do that if you’d like, but thoroughly rinsing your chasen in the sink under cold water should be sufficient, with or without the whisking step.

      You’re also right, no need for detergents. πŸ™‚

        1. Griff

          Hey Simon,

          Although water quality is important for overall taste, the matcha not holding the foam may be the result of the quality of matcha, or your proportions.

          If your matcha is light or not vibrant in colour, it’s probably old. However, if that’s not the issue, it could be your proportions.

          I find it is hard to make the matcha foam if there is too much water, or too little. Try using roughly 70ml of water, and see if that helps. πŸ™‚

    1. Griff

      Hi Aisha, great question! πŸ™‚

      The black bamboo whisk – also known as the susudake chasen – gets its distinctive colour from being smoked. This whisk is favoured by the Omotesenke school for the Japanese tea ceremony.

      Although this style of whisk is typically known for being of the top quality, I think the main reason why someone would want one would simply be for aesthetic preference.

  2. Paulina

    I bought a chasen several months ago, use it daily, always clean it with water immediately after use and leave it out to dry. However, I have noticed that there are dark specs which don’t come off with rinsing/whisking in plain water. I’m wondering if it could be mold? If so, can I clean it with a weak bleach solution? Or is there another way to clean it? I don’t want to have to buy a new one every few months if I can avoid it.

    1. Griff

      Hello Paulina πŸ™‚

      Most likely those black spots are mold. I would recommend using a toothbrush to scrub them off. If you can reach the affected area on the chasen, this will likely do the trick. If the spots are too far up the whisk for a toothbrush to reach, try using a Q-Tip cotton swab. I would caution against using a bleach solution.

      In the future, after use, rinse your chasen in the hottest water available and shake out as much of the water as you can.

      Good luck! πŸ˜€

    1. Griff

      Hey Jonquil, in lieu of the holder I would recommend storing the chasen on its handle/chunky side. After rinsing, be sure to shake off the excess water. A little bit of remaining moisture will evaporate and not pool in the inner section.

  3. Jacob Moser

    My Matcha set came with two different sized bamboo spoons. In the traditional ceremony what are both of the spoons used for. Is it the same as measuring a teaspoon, and a tablespoon in regards to how much matcha I prepare?

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