Tea whisk “Chasen” makes the velvety thick texture of authentic Japanese green tea.
Behind that velvety texture is the bamboo tea whisk called “Chasen” which have been crafted by artisans in Nara, Japan for more than 800 years.
Tea whisks are made from bamboo dried outside over the winter.
Artisans use dozens of different tools to whittle down the layers of bamboo into fine bristles.
How to make a tea whisk
Types of tea whisks
There are more than ten schools of tea ceremony and each school requires different types of tea whisks.
Although the basic structure is the same, number of bristles differ significantly from 80 to 120.
Some school will make the green tea more frothy, while others prefer smooth texture.
I do not belong to any of the schools, so the one I have in this picture is the most basic one.
I put 1/2 tsp of powdered green tea in a bowl, then pour about 50cc hot water. Then, quickly whisk with this bamboo tea whisk using wrist for about 20 seconds.
We do not put sugar in green tea in Japan, so we normally enjoy it with a Japanese confectionery.
In a tea ceremony, you use a disposable, but beautifully designed Japanese paper called “Kaishi” as your plate for confectionery.
I am planning to write about Kaishi in a future post.
Artisans’ village Takayama in Nara
Coming back to tea whisks, more than 90% of them are made in Nara prefecture in Japan.
More specifically, they are made in a small country village called Takayama in Ikoma city. (There is a famous touristic venue by the same name in Gifu. So, don’t get confused!)
In the 12th century, tea was introduced to Japan from China.
The warlord who controlled the area had a donjon in Takayama and nurtured tea whisk craftsmanship in the town.
The artisanry has been passed down to the first son of the family for hundreds of years in Takayama.
These days, you can find tea whisks that are made in China. But the texture you get with ones hand-made by Takayama artisans is really different and it brings joy to your taste buds. So, if you are planning to buy a tea whisk to take home, I recommend you make sure it is made in Takayama. If you want to be 100% sure, you can get it directly at one of the studios in Takayama. Sometimes they will be able to show you the studios and how they make tea whisks. That makes a really interesting visit.