Last Updated on June 4, 2022 by Share My Kitchen
You should whisk your matcha green tea.
Yes. No matter if it is pure or when preparing a latte, always whisk the milk before pouring it.
It is a no-brainer to use a chasen, or the Japanese term for a whisk to prepare matcha green tea. It is hard to imagine how people might see things differently.
Truth be told, matcha enthusiasts and long-time Japanese ex-pats tend to forget that whisking matcha green tea is not an obvious practice for most people.
So, in a very Japanese tradition of kaizen (“improvement”), let’s talk about something that will change the way you approach matcha: WHISKING.
Why use a bamboo whisk
(Chasen) for matcha green tea?
The whisk is the most important item after matcha when you are making a great beverage. It is known as “chasen” (茶筅) in Japanese, and it is made from bamboo. It was intentionally designed to prepare matcha.
This small and simple tool is important for many reasons.
You can use the whisk to mix matcha green tea powder, water, and air into a nice foamy drink. Whisking the ingredients releases aromas and essences in the foam found on the surface. This is more than just about dissolving the powder into water. The key is oxygenation.
If you are a coffee drinker, think of it as the foam on your cappuccino or espresso.
If you are a wine drinker, you can think of it as aeration. The wine must “breathe” in order to reach its full potential.
Bamboo as an Ideal Material
If bamboo is used in a good whisk, it does not leave a taste or smell that could affect the delicate taste of matcha. While iron whisks usually make an impact on this taste. It is also a durable material, and if it is dried well, the chasen will retain its shape and function for many months or years.
Bamboo makes the whisk flexible. Instead of damaging the bowl by piercing/scratching it, it bends to prevent any damage. It is important because matcha bowls can be old, precious, and expensive. This is especially vital if you make matcha frequently!
It is a completely new experience to use a chasen. This tool has been used in tea ceremonies for centuries, and it takes time and knowledge to make a chasen. A bamboo whisk can make you feel like a master tea-maker for just a few minutes each day. The best part? You don’t have to be an expert in order to use it correctly!
So, how do you whisk?
How to Whisk Matcha Green Tea
Whisking is important when making great and foamy matcha. It is, however, the most misunderstood and overlooked step. Although whisking is simple, it’s important to follow a specific procedure to ensure success. The entire process shouldn’t take more than one minute.
These are the steps to get a great foam:
Add one or two spoons of matcha to a bowl, and add a little (a teaspoon) of cold water. Then, use the whisk to make a smooth paste. However, this isn’t what we call whisking yet!
Once you have a smooth, lump-free paste in your bowl it is time to start the actual whisking.
Add some hot water to the bowl, and begin whisking firmly using your wrist (not the elbow). This should be done while you hold the bowl with your other hand. Do it FIRMLY. Don’t be afraid, and give it your all. Be quick! Be dirty! Be energetic! It will get easier.
Try to whisk as fast as you can! It’s impossible to be too fast.
However, keep in mind that you must simply whisk the matcha back and forth, NOT in a circular motion. Instead, use a W or Z zigzag pattern. Or, just move the matcha back and forth. It is important to shock the mixture to incorporate air to the water and tea. Otherwise, it won’t become foamy.
You won’t be able to oxygenate your tea if you swirl in circles. It becomes too smooth, and it won’t have bubbles.
Continue whisking for 20 seconds. Your whisking hand will feel tired and sore, but do not stop.
It is also important to remember to whisk FIRMLY.
NOTE: It is recommended that you use 1 teaspoon of cold water and make the matcha into a paste to get rid of the lumps.
A tip: When whisking, don’t press tines unnecessarily hard on the bottom of your bowl. You don’t have to. While it’s okay to create some friction, don’t press too hard. This is about making tea, not ruining utensils. You can try to whisk the water.
After you have whisked for at least 20 seconds (you can go longer), slow down, and stop to watch the foam. If the matcha is of high quality, it should be present.
If you need more foam, whisk more. You can also re-whisk matcha after having drunk half of it. Do this to always have a nice, deep foamy top.
- Start by preparing a lump-free paste with a little cold water.
- Whisk FIRMLY for at least 20 seconds.
- Always whisk back & forth, NOT in a circular pattern.
- If the foam is not adequate, you can whisk more!
There you go!
How to Properly Maintain Your Chasen
Bamboo whisks are a valuable tool. So, you need to look after it and make sure it is in good condition through its uses. Always pay attention to these details:
Make It More Flexible
The chasen’s maintenance begins even before you make your matcha. To make the tines more flexible, dip it in warm water for a few seconds before you use it. This will keep them from breaking easily, and it will make your whisk last longer.
Handle It Carefully When Using
When whisking, don’t use too much strength on your chasen. Be firm but gentle at the same time. Moreover, remember to not scratch your bowl. Otherwise, you’ll end up with broken tools!
Clean Your Chasen
After each use, clean your whisk. However, it is best not to put it in the dishwasher as it could cause irreparable damage. It is easy to clean: simply use a bowl of warm water, and whisk it like matcha. Repeat the process as many times as necessary. You don’t need soap or any other products as hot water will do the job just fine, and will be gentler with bamboo.
Dry It Well
To protect your chasen from mold growth and humidity, dry it properly after cleaning. Then, to preserve its shape, you can use a whisk holder to dry it and store it. However, if you don’t have one, it is important to not dry your bamboo whisk on its side. It will quickly lose its efficiency and shape. It can be placed backward, so the tiles are sticking in the air.
Store In a Good Place
Do not keep your whisk in the container that it came with when it was purchased. It is normal for the shape of the chasen to change with each use. So, after several uses, it might not fit in the first container anymore. It can even cause damage to your whisk if you use too much force when you place it in.
Moreover, the humidity trapped in plastic can cause the formation of mold if the chasen isn’t completely dry. It is recommended that you use a whisk holder.
There you go!
If you stuck around and read this article from the beginning to the end. Congratulations! You can now use a chasen correctly and make it last! You are also a few steps closer to enjoying a great matcha.