Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prevent a Crack on Your Tea Whisk


Crack on my chasen tea whisk
I got a crack on the handle of my chasen or tea whisk. For tea ceremonies, chasen is basically considered as a consumable item, so it’s probably not good to use a cracked whisk. However, it is impractical to have a brand new one at every occasion for personal use or at tea schools. So, I’m still using the broken chasen at home and I kind of find the crack even charming. 



Can’t think of what has caused the crack
I have heard that it cracks in a dry environment. I sometimes use my chasen every day and sometimes don’t use it for weeks. I thought that it cracked when it got too dry during the period that I didn’t use it. But then, I have a question. Why my unused chasens in the storage don’t get cracks and why only the one I currently use got the crack? I can’t think of a good explanation on that.

I asked a chasen craftsman
On Facebook, I was asked for an advice on how to prevent cracks of chasen. So, I called a chasen craftsman asked his opinion. According to him, good-quality bamboo can crack easily because it has fine and high-density fiber and it is hard and strong. He says that temperature difference is often the cause of cracks. In Japan, you often get the cracks between March and May and also in the season when you use the heater. He said that you can hear the whisks cracking at the department store in a winter season at night. It is because it is warm at daytime but at night, the air conditioners are turned off and it gets very cold.

Ideal storage for chasen
It seems good to keep your chasen in a place with low-temperature difference and without an air conditioner. The chasen craftsman recommends a cool and dark place for storing them. My storage of chasen stocks is exactly like that. It now totally make sense why my stocks don’t get cracks. Chasen is made of natural material. So, it gets moldy if it’s not dry enough and it has a risk of cracks if it’s too dry.
< Points for treating chasen >
1. After use, rinse it with water and air-dry well (Avoid putting directly under the sunlight‏).
2. Then, store it in a cool and dark place (Don’t store it in the refrigerator).
The tips are no surprise and very basic. However, I was not able to achieve these simple things. I’ve kept my chasen in the kitchen where I use an air conditioner. Drying could be one of the reasons but I learned that temperature difference is one of the biggest causes. We hope you find it informative.

11 comments:

  1. Yes, I've seen so many cracked whisks, both at the store and in my friend's house. Thanks!

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    1. Their whisks must be made of good-quality bamboo. Hahaha.

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  2. Hi, Kohei ... Thank you for asking a craftsman about the care of chasen. Yes, it is a constant problem, but I have found that by using a naoshi, my chasen actually don't crack as much. This is the case even with inferior Chinese bamboo. Japanese chasen actually makes a much better bowl of frothy (Urasenke style) usucha. I am putting a link on my FB page "The Way of Tea in LA" to your posting. You also might enjoy my blog by the same name (www.thewayofteainla.blogspot.com) Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu!

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    1. You must be very familiar with sado. It’s impressive that you can tell the difference of Chinese and Japanese chasen by the froth of tea. Thanks for sharing the link of my post!

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  3. Thanks for solving the mystery of the cracking chasen! (A lot of us have them.) Is there any way to get rid of fine black mold spots on a chasen? I've treated the chasen well over the years, but it still got spots on the bottom half of the tines. (What am I doing wrong? I've got my home at as even a temperature as I can, and use a dehumidifier in summer.)

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    1. Thank you for leaving your comment! I’ve never got mold like yours and I’ve never seen it at my tea school either. I don’t know how it get the mold like that. Is it because you live in a very humid area?? Or, only the case I can think of is that when you air dry your chasen as you keep it standing, a little water could be remained at the base of tines. The shape of the center of tine-base is like a small cup and can hold a little amount of water. If water remains there, the bamboo will absorb it and the bottom of the tines could be wet for a long time. Maybe you can try making sure if there is no remaining water on the whisk before air-drying. I’m sorry that I don’t know how to remove the black spots from whisks. Thank you for stopping by.

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  4. Your whisk is so much more beautiful as the ones I have seen in the store, the one I have now is a cheap chines one because I just started and wanted to see if I keep up with matcha. I think I will and for my next whisk I will want no other than your Shin whisk.
    I keep my whisk on a stand, but when the outer tines have dried I take it off, because the inner tines don't dry inside the stand.

    Don't you think that when you actually use a whisk it does of course get wet, and then dries, and gets wet again, etc, that might put extra strain on the bamboo? So it might have more chance of splitting? Or maybe the wetting it keeps it more flexible and a whisk which sees regular use might be less liable to splitting...

    About the other commentator, I think when your whisk gets moldy that's the end. You can kill the mold by soaking our whisk in vinegar, but it won't remove the spots and I don't think it will improve the taste of your tea.... ;)

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    1. I agree. As you said, repeating wetting and drying can damage the material and can be a cause of cracking. I don’t think that you can simply name only one cause. But at least what you can do is air dry well and store in a cool and dark place. Thanks for leaving your comment always (^-^)

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  5. PS the two comments above me, about air conditioners, are spam.

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  6. Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences.
    sencha

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