Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Story of My Japanese Tea Bowl

 Thank you, Mom!

Margie, my guide in learning more about Japanese culture and the tea ceremony, encourages her students to choose tea equipment carefully.  No rushing to buy an unknown piece on eBay.  The right tools will come to us in time, and they need to have a story I love this idea.

Here's the story for my first pieces.  The chawan, or tea bowl, is from Japan.  It's special to me because I found it after having learned about what makes a good tea bowl.  What an eye-opening experience!  I had no idea of the thought and detail put into a tea bowl.  Mine is classic in its shape, has the proper foot depth and the correct ridge where the cloth rests as you clean the bowl.  It has a definite front and back, which helps a newbie like me.  And it's a good example of understated beauty

I've named this tea bowl iki wo suru, which means "to breathe" in Japanese. It's meaningful because breathe is my word for the year.  Each time I use this bowl, I will think of of my breath.

Tea bowls often come in specially made boxes, and the box belonging to this bowl is a large part of why I chose it.  The box is beautiful in its own right.  

The crispness of the black natsume (tea caddy), I'm learning, presents a contrast to the more rustic elements often found among the other tea equipment.  What I like about the natsume is the sound made when the lid is placed back on after having scooped out the tea.  It's a simple click that reminds me of something ephemeral from my childhood.

The chasen (whisk) is of central importance.  This humble tool generates the right froth in a bowl of matcha. I have many, many, many more cups to whip to become proficient. This whisk and I will become good companions.

I picked this tea bowl and other equipment on a sunny Spring afternoon, in the company of Margie and another good friend. The items are a gift from my mother for my birthday. I'm sure this is the beginning of many happy memories associated with their use.

The box for my chawan

 This tool (chasen kusenaoshi) holds the whisk and helps keep it in shape


Snap said...

Wonderful post, Steph. I believe everything should have a story!!! If you can't tell the story ... don't need it! :D :D :D

Rosemary said...

Happy Birthday Steph! What wonderful gifts and beautiful explanatory post... thanks! You will enjoy them for years to come, I'm sure.

Steph said...

Thank you!

Marilyn said...

Stephanie, Your tea bowl, box, whisk, and canister are all gorgeous! What a lovely birthday gift. Happy, happy birthday to you.

Get Natured said...

I love that it has a name and a story! It always feels special to me to have matcha and I love the acts of making it and drinking it from my bowl (which needs a name!) too. :-)

amherstrose said...

Your journey into the depths of tea has brought you to a thoughtful place. Chosing the tea bowl came in its own time and perhaps it "found" you when you were ready for it.

Happy Birthday, Stephanie. May tea be a part of your celebration and a gift renewed on each birthday you will be given.

MaryJane <3

Marlena said...

They are indeed beautiful, especially as a birthday gift from yiur mohter, who gave you breath and life! May you breathe life into each other through many years.

Angela McRae said...

Oh, I just love the thoughtfulness that went into this post. A very happy and tea-filled birthday to YOU!

The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook said...

Hi Stephanie,

I love your post! Happy belated birthday! I'm sure you will treasure the beautiful gifts from your mother. I love what your bowl means and represents.

Thanks for sharing pointers about how to choose the right Japanese bowl for matcha. It's wonderful to learn something new about tea each day.

Blessings, Darlene

Micupoftea~ said...

Hello Steph~ Ah! Another fan of matcha (usucha & koicha). I studied Urusenke with my wonderful sensei for 3 years and had the opportunity to meet the Grand Tea Master when he visited L.A. years ago. I enjoyed performing tea ceremonies for various Japanese festivals and own a lovely kimona. Other than Urusenke students, I do not know anyone else who owns a chasaku, chasen, etc. Thanks for visiting my blog~

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post and beautiful tea accesories. Thank you for sharing.

Miss Tea Delight said...

The modest yet un-pale colours of most Japanese tea ware can be so seductive :) Great choice and happy birthday!