Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why tea whisks matter 2

Like I’ve mentioned in the previous blog, I didn’t find a significant difference between the moderately-frothed usucha (thin tea) prepared with a 100-tine whisk and the one prepared with a 70-tine whisk.  Then, I tried the same experiment on the well-whisked usucha with plenty of foam.  The conditions are the same as the previous test.  (Matcha: 1.7 grams,  Water: 50 ml,  Whisking: 20 sec)  I beat both teas with faster motion to obtain extravagant foam, “A” with 100-tine whisk and “B” with 70-tine whisk.

“A” with 100-tine whisk,  “B” with 70-tine whisk

I felt a resistance in the liquid while I was whisking “A”, and I could feel it in my senses that a generous amount of foam was formed.  On the other hand, I find a less viscous feeling on beating liquid “B”.  Lavish foam is covered on both of the surfaces.  The photo might not be clear but if you look at it closely, you will notice that “A” has finer foam and the foam in “B” is rougher and more bubbly.  I would find out later on, after taking sips, that there are more apparent comparisons to see.  For instance, the moment that the tea bowl reached my mouth, “A” has thicker foam.  I could not tell it from the surface.  I got a totally different impression on each tea now.

If you taste them more attentively, you’ll find the same quality of bitterness and sweetness.  However, the most obvious comparison would have to do with the texture of the foam produced.   The foam in “A” fills your mouth, and delicate taste lingers for a long time.  It consisted with fine tiny bubbles, so the foam is spongier.   Meanwhile, the rough and big bubbles in “B” easily break and disappear, and give a lighter touch.   

I therefore conclude that if you prefer usucha with rich and fine foam; use a whisk with a large number of tines.  If you like your tea with lighter foam, beat with a fewer-tine whisk.  There are various factors affecting the taste and texture of tea, and you can’t simply find a perfect answer.  However, the tea whisk matters for sure.