True gourmets and connoisseurs of elite Japanese matcha tea know how to choose a whisk for the drink. But what should you do if you are just about to try matcha for the first time? Or maybe you have tried matcha a few times, but it was bitter, had lumps, and did not dissolve completely? In this article, we will dive into the basics of choosing the best whisk to make matcha delicate and flavorful.
How do you pick a good matcha whisk? To make Usucha, pick a matcha bamboo whisk with 70-120 thin prongs as they will mix matcha powder better, creating a thick layer of foam. To make Koicha, pick a whisk with up to 60 prongs. A good whisk has curled tips that create a thicker layer of froth, making the drink more delicate.
Useful Tips on How to Pick a Good Matcha Whisk
Matcha whisk is used for mixing matcha powder with water and air, making the drink delicate and silky. Matcha whisk does not alter the taste and smell of matcha, releasing its naturally vegetal flavor, nutty aroma, and silky texture. When mixed with air, matcha becomes sweet and tender.
How do you find a good matcha whisk? A good matcha whisk must be hand-made in Japan from high-quality bamboo (the older the bamboo stem, the better). All prongs must be manually crafted until they have the ideal thickness and length. Opt for a 70-120 prong matcha whisk to make delicate Usucha and a 20-60 prong whisk to make thick Koicha.
Without a matcha whisk, matcha will also not get a layer of foam on top, which makes the drink silky and delicate. Head over to 7 Reasons Why Your Matcha Does Not Foam to see how to make your matcha perfect!
Matcha whisks can be electric and manual. Electric ones are made of plastic and stainless steel and run on batteries. Electric whisks blend matcha powder within 15-30 seconds and are used by those who do not have enough time to prepare matcha or matcha latte or just do not want to spend time whisking the drink manually.
See also: Why Is Matcha So Popular? The Real Truth
However, there are also fans of the healing drink who enjoy not only its taste but also the preparation process. In this case, a bamboo whisk (chasen) is used, which is made by hand from bamboo stems. Bamboo can be fresh, dried, or burnt. Bamboo whisks are different in size, thickness, and prong quantity (varies from 16 to 120). But do you really need a matcha whisk to make a good drink, or can you just use a spoon?
Does matcha whisk matter? Matcha whisk does matter as it removes tiny lumps and whisks matcha powder into a frothy delicate suspension. Bamboo whisks (chasen) create a thick layer of froth thanks to the saponin compound in matcha. Without a matcha whisk, your drink will be lumpy and less silky.
To keep your matcha whisk in good condition, head over to Ultimate Guide on How to Care for a Matcha Whisk (Chasen)
When choosing a whisk for making matcha, the first step is to decide what kind of tea you will make: light or strong. Each type of brewing has its own cooking technology and equipment. So, to brew the daily Usucha tea, use a bamboo whisk with a lot of bristles (from 70 to 120), which will mix the powder more thoroughly and give the drink a thick layer of soft foam.
To brew a traditional drink for Koicha ceremonies, buy a whisk with thick 40-60 prongs. If you bought a premium-quality whisk, but you still cannot dissolve the powder fully, check out Why Is My Matcha Not Mixing? See The Most Common Mistakes!
How many bristles should a matcha whisk have? A matcha whisk must have 70-120 bristles to make Usucha and 20-60 bristles to make thick Koicha. The more bristles a matcha whisk has, the more lumps it will remove, and the more delicate and silky the drink will be.
There are dozens of types of whisks for making ceremonial matcha tea. They differ depending on the material from which they are made, the number of bristles, their shape, thickness, the time of year when the whisk was produced – summer or winter, and many other factors, so it is crucial to purchase a high-quality Japanese chasen that will last for 1-2 years with frequent use.
Wondering why your matcha is bitter? See this Why Is My Matcha Bitter? How to Reduce Matcha Bitterness guide.
Matcha Whisk Lifespan
When should I change my matcha whisk? Change a matcha whisk once the prongs uncurl, break or lose shape. Usually, high-quality Japanese matcha whisks last for 12-18 months if they are properly stored and cared for (do not use soap or put the whish in the dishwasher), but it also depends on the frequency of use and the quality of the whisk.
After making the tea, rinse the whisk under running hot water until the whisk is clean. Pour hot clean water into the matcha bowl (Chavan) and whisk the water for a minute until you see that all the prongs are clean; then, simply pour out the water and put the whisk to dry. Important point: DO NOT use detergents to clean the whisk. DO NOT put it in the dishwasher. All this can damage the whisk.
Did you know you can make matcha with milk instead of water? See our review of What Milk Goes Best with Matcha?
For the whisk to last longer, when drying, do not place its prongs on the surface. Instead, use a special “kusenaoshi” stand for drying, a ceramic holder that gives the whisk its shape. If you don’t have a stand, store the whisk with the bristles facing up.
How Long Does a Matcha Whisk Last?
High-quality handmade Japanese bamboo whisks last for 12-18 months if they are properly used (never put it in a dishwasher or add soap) and stored. Cheap Chinese matcha whisks last for 3-6 months as bristles begin to uncurl, lose shape and break very soon as the quality is poor.
Try to soak the whisk in water for 30 minutes before each use. When the whisk absorbs water, it becomes more elastic and thus less prone to damage. After use, be sure to rinse the whisk with water and dry well to prevent decay. Store the whisk in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight and moisture. To see how to store matcha powder to retain its vegetal taste and nutty aroma, check out How to Store Matcha? Practical, Detailed Guide
Are all matcha whisks the same? Matcha whisks are not all the same as they are made of different bamboo stems with different numbers of bristles. While Japanese handmade whisks are of the highest quality and last for up to 2 years if used often, Chinese whisks are much cheaper, are of poor quality, and do not last long.
Not sure whether hot or cold matcha is better? Head over to Hot vs. Cold Matcha: Ultimate Guide on Matcha Temperature
Nevertheless, matcha whisk is a good investment as it makes matcha delicate, silky, and creamy, lasts up to 2 years even with frequent use, and does not alter the naturally vegetal taste and nutty smell of matcha. Opt for handmade Japanese bamboo whisks for the best result.
How to Pick a Good Matcha Whisk Q&A
Can You Whisk Matcha With Metal?
While you can whisk matcha with metal using a whisk or a hand blender, a traditional Japanese bamboo whisk is the best for making delicate matcha as bamboo doesn’t alter matcha’s taste, smell, and color. Metal whisks don’t remove tiny powder lumps and don’t create thick layers of foam.
Is a Matcha Whisk Worth It?
Matcha whisk is a good investment as it makes matcha delicate, silky, and creamy, lasts up to 2 years even with frequent use, and does not alter the naturally vegetal taste and nutty smell of matcha. Opt for handmade Japanese bamboo whisks for the best result.
Can You Stir Matcha With a Spoon?
Matcha should not be stirred with a spoon as it cannot remove tiny lumps that the powder forms. The best way to mix matcha is to use a bamboo whisk or a hand blender. Spoons can only remove the sediment from the bottom of the cup as you are drinking matcha.