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Monday, April 2, 2012

Thoughts on Chasen 80 vs 100 prongs

I must admit to a bit of a bloated ego when I placed my last order for Japanese tea.  I was ordering matcha, and having just gotten some new teabowls, I decided it was time to replace my more worn, and cracking chasen. I had a decision to make, 100 prong or 80 prong.  My previous chasen was 100 prong, and while quite big it was very easy to use.  The 80 prong chasen was labeled for those who have more expeience making matcha.

Thinking to myself, I have had no problems whisking thoroughly, effectively, and producing a nice thick layer of froth with my 100 prong chasen, I should be able to easily adapt to an 80 prong chasen.  I was quite wrong.

Somehow the more compact 80 prong chasen behaves a lot more like a spoon than a whisk, while it definitely is whisking, you get a lot more liquid motion similar to what you would expect if you were vigorously shaking around a spoon or something else with limited holes.  With 100 prongs I always felt it was more like slicing up the liquid to generate turbulence and hence get the nice froth.

With the less turbulent motion you do get a froth, but having had wrist problems having problems with tendinitis and carpel tunnel, and all the fencing I did for a few years with the heaviest weapon did not help the condition of my wrist either, I feel I can not sustain the intense whisking long enough to get the desired foam on top of the matcha.  I have been working on it, part of it is just building up the stamina, I am honestly not used to moving my wrist in that motion for that length of time.   Where as the larger 100 prong is easier to hold, it often whisks quite completely in 30-45 seconds.  I have a hunch that the 80 prong chasen would need at least a full minute.

But the 80 prong chasen is not horrible, in fact I prefer it to the 100 prong chasen which I feel is huge and bloated, the 80 prong is a much more manageable size, and despite being exposed to some rather dry air for about a month now has yet to crack. (My 100 prong chasen had started to crack within a week of purchase).  Although I have no proof that the smaller bamboo handle is directly related to that last fact, it could just have been the actual bamboo selected.
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