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500-Year History of Bamboo Whisk – Part Two

Let’s look at the bamboo…

There are roughly 100 different types and forms of chasen utilized by different schools of tea. Hachiku (Henon bamboo) delivers a smooth and foamy whipped green tea, while shichiku (purple) and kurochiku (dark) make a green tea with an island of foam, while susudake (sediment recolored bamboo) makes a foamless green tea.

Fine-grained hachiku (Henon bamboo) with its straight strands is the choice of Urasenke tea school, and this bamboo is best used after aging for three years. In the first place, the hachiku bamboo is simmered to remove dirt and oil – missing this step will result in discoloration of the wood. At that point in mid-winter, when Takayama is impacted by icy winds, the bamboo is put like a lean-to in the rice fields to sun-dry. During the month or so of drying, the green bamboo slowly turns fair, much the same as a tatami mat if you have ever had new ones put into your house! Once the bamboo is dried, it goes into storage for one more year or two where it takes on a distinctive amber tone.

One length of hachiku bamboo yields only three to four chasen. This is because of the joints on the bamboo. Each chasen needs the joint at a particular distance from the head-precisely 9 centimeters over the joint and three centimeters underneath it.

After shaving just the outer layer of the bamboo, the area over the joint is split into 16 equal parts. Imagine holding a long dinner candle and carving it starting from the top to the center to make 16 equal cuts! Each segment of the bamboo is around 4 millimeters wide, at that point the inward piece of each strip is cut out, leaving a skin around 1 millimeter thick. Every one of these strips is then additionally split into 10! One millimeter is about the width of a needle. This makes 80 external tines and 80 internal ones, so 160 altogether. This will be a 80-tine whisk. There are 100 tines and 120 too.

The next step, called aji-kezuri, is the shaving of the tines. Keep in mind, these tines are 1 millimeter or less in thickness, yet the master will shave them down considerably further. The tines should be absorbed high temp water to soften them before within the tine is shaved. This is a delicate procedure where the craftsman is working purely by feel.

What follows next is called mentori, or gently adjusting the closures of the outer tines, which is one of the most delicate steps and is the thing that keeps the matcha from sticking to the tines.

The craftsman currently weaves dazzling colored string in and out to isolate the tines (known as shitaami) and folds the string twice over the outside (uwaami). He at that point inspects and removes any stray bamboo chips or residue at the base before gripping the inward tines and turning them to make this magnificent functional piece of art.

Watching this mesmerizing craft has given new meaning to my morning bowl of matcha. The adoration Tanimura san puts into his chasen infuses my tea with magic. On the off chance that you might want to visit Tanimura san in Nara, or would like to be put on the waiting list for a custom-made chasen with thread color of your choice.

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