Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Making Tea in Kimono (A Special Gift)

At my chanoyou tea lesson last week, I was given a very special gift!  My sensei dressed me in one of her kimono and obi so that I could practice walking and making tea in kimono.  The kimono limits movement and adds volume to the sleeves, things that must be attended to when making tea!

The gift continued....she photo-documented the experience for me!  I'm so lucky to have a very generous teacher!  (Learn more about the Issoan Tea School.)  I feel compelled to confess - these photos make me look like I know what I'm doing!  ;-)  I'm still very much a beginner, needing to be coached through the process and clumsy in my ways.  However, with each lesson I grow in my knowledge, precision and confidence. 

Many of you have expressed an interest in what a Japanese Tea Ceremony looks like...so here is a summary view from the perspective of the host making tea.  I'm sharing this wonderful gift with you.  Enjoy!

We begin with a bow and a greeting.  The host then stands and enters the room. 

Next the host carries in the utensils and places them in precise locations. 
The number of trips required varies depending on the procedure being used.  (A key learning for me along this journey - there are hundreds of tea procedures, not just one way!)

The host settles and takes a moment to gather composure, then removes the fukusa (silk cloth) from the obi (the wide belt).  The fukusa is folded in several special ways for purification of utensils.  I like this photo because it shows the sitting position (on knees/heels).

The color of the fukusa for women is typically red or orange, yang (male) colors to balance the feminine energy.  Correspondingly, men use deep purple, a yin (female) color.

I've just had an ah-ha.  The folding of the fukusa is becoming comfortable to me...that is something that at one point I never thought I'd master.  Progress!

Purifying the utensils is an important aspect of the procedure.  This is a symbolic act, as all utensils are clean when brought into the tea room.
Next the host opens the lid to the kettle.  Notice the length of the kimono sleeve.

And then the host pours hot water into the tea bowl.  Then she/he inspects the whisk and brushes the tines through the warm water.  This warms the tea bowl and the bamboo whisk.

Now the host pours off the excess water.  This step is one of the reasons my sensei wanted me to practice in kimono.  I have to be very careful not to drag my sleeve through the water basin.

The host uses a linen cloth to purify the outside and inside of the tea bowl. 

Now make tea!  The host adds two scoops of matcha, along with half a ladle of hot water.  The matcha is whisked briskly until the powder is well incorporated into the tea and a beautiful, silvery-green foam appears on top.

Now the host rotates the bowl so that the front is facing the guest, and places it next to the kettle for the guest to retrieve.

Finishing the ceremony:  The guest will have already enjoyed a sweet (very important to balance the flavor of the matcha!).  S/he will move forward and collect the tea bowl, acknowledge the host for making it and lift in silent thanks.  The guest then turns the front away (out of respect) and enjoys a delicous bowl of matcha!  The guest returns the bowl and the host prepares bowls for others.  Once everyone has been served, the host will tidy up and remove the utensils, and the ceremony finishes with a silent bow.


Marilyn Miller said...

How wonderful to see you in the kimono making tea in this very special ceremony. Thanks for sharing it with us.

jan e. said...

You look quite professional, and kimono suits you!! HOpe you had fun

Teafan said...

LOVE This!

cha sen said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds great.

I was lucky enough to be a guest at an abbreviated version of a chanoyu recently. I think one of the charms for me was the spirit in which the host conducted the ceremony; he was generous in spirit and gentle, making it easy for me to remain in the moment and appreciative.

Steph said...

Thank you, friends, for your encouragement!

amherstrose said...

Evocative of purity, harmony, and calm, the Tea Ceremony is indeed a gift. Thank you, Steph, for sharing what must have been a very personal and significant event in your tea journey. Your look so serene in the beautiful kimono.

Mary Jane

Angela McRae said...

You sure look like a pro to me! Interesting about not dragging the kimono sleeve through the water basin. I could just count on making a mess, I'm sure!