Graceful WhiskingIn a movie “Ask this of Rikyu”, there is the scene where Ms. Miki Nakatani as Souon prepares tea. When I watched it, I thought that her performance was not so significant. However, the other day, I had a chance to watch the scene again. I realized how gracious her whisking sound and tempo were. It is sometimes said “Whisk lightly” in Omotesenke tradition. It was kind of hard for me to get a sense of it, but how Ms. Nakatani whisks struck me. This is it! It was comfortable and natural like the way a bird or an insect sings. She starts whisking it slowly, and gradually quickens her pace to the peak. Then, she keeps the constant beat. Again gradually it slows down and the whisk leaves the bowl gently. People are sometimes too busy about making froth. I wonder how many people can actually care about the grace and pace when they whisk. Whisking is my recent interest.
Good Matcha and Bad MatchaIn my tea class, I noticed that the tea taste differ, depending on student preparing it even though we use the same utensils, water and matcha. It is no wonder that the amount of water and tea are the most influential factor. However, I also noticed the way of moving the whisk differs among the students. I wonder if the way of whisking gives certain impact to the taste. I often find the tea brewed by a particular classmate bitter.
Experimenting on the Way of WishkingI made three servings of matcha with different strength of whisking.
A: Harsh 20sec
B: Medium 20sec
C: Light 10sec
I try to peg my ideal whisking by Ms. Nakatani at “B”. I tried the other two, “A” and “C”, to imitate the way of two students from my tea class. Do you think I will find a certain difference among the three, or my ideal whisking makes better tasting tea? Let’s take a look at the result.
My Presumption FailedOne of my classmates whisks matcha hardly and I sometimes find his tea bitter. So, I expected a harsh whisking makes matcha bitter. Unfortunately, I could not find a significant difference in taste between the harsh whisking “A” and the normal whisking “B”. My presumption was wrong. I could find some texture in “C”, and the water and the tea were not blended well. What I can say from today’s test is “whisk well”. Despite of the result, I still believe that the way of whisking affects the taste in some degree, so I’ll keep seeking this issue, and I’m still attracted to Ms. Nakatani’s whisking.
Rhythmical PaceIn the movie, the camera doesn’t capture her hands entirely so I don’t know her specific moves. However, from the sound, I can tell that she whisks constantly with a comfortable rhythm. I don’t hear any irregular stroke. I actually timed her whisking. It was 20 sec with about 70 strokes. She changed the pace gradually and gracefully from the beginning to the peak, and the peak to finish. In my case, to try not to make lumps, I used to whisk with strokes like the letter “M”. It sounded kind of unsteady. Moreover, sometimes when a lump gets on the wall of the bowl, I try to get it down with an irregular stroke while whisking. It is quite difficult to whisk constantly and without getting any lumps. That is my challenge for now.
The way of whisking differs depending on school traditions. What I talked here is not an absolute way.
I took a video of the test I did. If you don’t see the subtitles, please check the setting of your YouTube.