If you’re new to matcha, you might think that a chasen (or also known as bamboo whisk) is needed to make matcha tea. Well, that depends. The bamboo whisk has an essential tool in Japanese tea ceremonies, and it’s specially designed to whisk matcha. Traditionally, this simple tool helps to create a thick frothy layer of foam on the surface of the matcha, bringing out its most delicate flavors and aroma easily.
Although we find that the bamboo whisk is the best tool to use when preparing matcha tea, it may be quite a hassle for people who are always on the go. You don’t necessarily need a bamboo whisk to make matcha tea, unless you’d like to experience matcha the traditional way. Electric frothers have emerged as a popular alternative, but we have also seen many other ingenious attempts to mix matcha and water quickly and conveniently.
We tried 5 of these bamboo whisk alternatives, and here’s what we think of each of them.
This is the quickest way to making a cup of frothy matcha tea. Just add in some water, matcha powder and blend for a few seconds until you see a frothy layer of foam on the top surface. We experienced no clumps at all, but this could really depend on your particular blender model.
The only downside of this method is that cleaning the blender can be quite a hassle. You will have to clean it well and this process obviously takes more time than most people would like. Matcha stains tend to accumulate as well, and at times the only way to clean them off efficiently without resorting to the dishwasher is to use warm or hot water.
When there are absolutely no available tools, a fork may seem like a tempting alternative. You “beat” the matcha into the water just as how one would beat an egg. This is our least recommended bamboo whisk alternative for making any matcha beverage. It was quite difficult to yield that smooth, frothy layer of foam, and the fork could not break up all of the clumps of matcha. You could still have a decent matcha tea only if you sift the matcha powder beforehand.
First, add in the matcha powder, followed by a small amount of hot water into a bowl. Then, quickly go over the clumps with your fork to smooth it out. Once the clumps are dissolved, pour in the rest of the hot water and continue whisking with the fork again until you see no visible clumps. With this method, we find that our matcha tea wasn’t giving us that usual smooth mouthfeel. So, we highly recommend making the fork as your last resort of workaround.
3. Electric frother
We found that using the electric frother easily yields the closest resemblance of preparing matcha tea with a bamboo whisk. It is convenient to use and clean, but the problem is that these electric frothers are usually either overpowered or underpowered. We have tried more than 9 different models and all have come up short. When underpowered, the frother is unable to break up all of the clumps in the matcha. When overpowered, the amount of foam produced is simply too much and it becomes a distraction to the matcha.
An added complication is that you need to choose your bowl or cup carefully. Taller vessels like jars, bottles or deeper bowls work best. If you place the electric frother too close to the surface when frothing, you could end up with matcha splashing everywhere.
A good tip is to only switch on the electric frother when it’s in the water, and turn it off before removing it from the matcha mixture.
4. The Shaking method
The “shake in a bottle” method is our favorite bamboo whisk workaround. It’s totally fuss-free! All you need is a bottle or a transparent jar with a lid so that you can check for any clumps easily. Add in the right amount of matcha and water, close the lid, and shake it vigorously for about 30 seconds until all clumps are dissolved. This method forms a nice layer of foam from the vigorous shaking. You just a need a little of muscle and effort into the shaking part.
We have tried this method for warmer water successfully as well, though we must caution you to be careful as it can get quite hot! Opening the jar or bottle after shaking may also prove tricky because of the buildup in pressure.
5. Immersion Blender
Not everyone has an immersion blender at home, but this methods works too. The immersion blender falls somewhere in between a blender and an electric frother, so you will definitely want to use a taller jar or bigger container. We have seen this being used but cannot vouch for it because we usually prefer to use either the blender (when making large volumes) or the electric frother/shaking method for smaller servings.
Overall, we thought that the shaking in a bottle method is the best bamboo whisk alternative. It’s fuss-free, inexpensive and perfect for people who are always on the go. But if you’re comfortable with other bamboo whisk workarounds like using the blender or an electric frother, go ahead with what’s most convenient for you. Matcha is a versatile ingredient that you can enjoy in many ways, and we just want people to enjoy making matcha the way they want.