Thursday, October 31, 2013

Purifying CHASHAKU tea scoop (Video)

In the tea ceremony, you purify the tea scoop before and after making the tea by ritually wiping it with a silk cloth.  This video introduces the way of purifying the CHASHAKU tea scoop.  The manner varies depending on school traditions.
Chashaku is available on our shop.  Click this picture to jump to the shop.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Measuring matcha and water

Do you think you prepare delicious matcha with correct amount of tea and water? I have talked about this topic before. However, it might not be so accurate to judge the correct amount by its looks or weight. Who knows, maybe your scale doesn’t exactly point to the right digit. You might not still be sure if your tea tastes right. Today, I want to share things that I realized when I was preparing things for the tea ceremony that I held the other day.

By the way, have you ever heard of the term “tatedashi”? Tatedashi is a way of serving tea by making it in another room and bring it to the guests in the tea room. The host prepares tea in the tea room only for the first few guests and the tea for the rest are served from the back by assistants. It makes the ceremony runs fast and smooth, and it’s often preferred at a ceremony with a lot of guests.

For the tea ceremony that I had, an assistant needed to make a lot of bowls of tea promptly and precisely in the preparation room. For my assistant, I looked for the way to effectively measure tea and water accurately. It helps to serve consistent quality of tea for everybody. 

1.8g of matcha and 60ml water are standard amounts of ingredients. I wanted to serve tea with light flavor because most of my guests were not so familiar with matcha. To find the best mixture for this gathering, I tried different amounts of matcha and water. My choice was 1.2g of matcha and 50ml of water. This tea is very mild but you can still enjoy the essence of matcha flavor. You will beam with delight from its sweetness hopping on a comfortable grassy note. I found perfect items in the kitchen to measure the ingredients. They are a 5ml spoon and a small sencha cup. I found out that you can scoop around 1.2g of matcha with a 5ml spoon. Take note, I said spoon, not spoonful (^-^) If I fill 95% of the Wabi-iki small sencha cup which is one of the products of our shop, it is about 50ml. With the spoon and cup, I could get my assistant to serve consistent tea.  

If you are a beginner about matcha and not sure how decent matcha tastes like. You can try using 5ml spoon to measure the correct amount. You might not have a problem measuring water but it may be difficult measuring matcha. So, 5ml spoon is useful. Try the mild tea with one spoon of matcha and 50ml water, and see how you like it. Then you can adjust the amounts to find your best mixture! Good luck.

Sift matcha with a tea strainer before measuring with the spoon.
Scoop matcha gently when measuring.

In Japan, we have two scale spoons for cooking. One is called the small spoon which is 5ml and the other one is the large spoon for 15ml. I found the equivalent English words in my dictionary, a “tea spoon (5ml)” and a “table spoon (15ml)”. Are they really for scaling? Are they common in your county? I’ll be happy if you leave a comment on this post for the answer.

Related posts:
Correct amount of matcha
Volume of sifted and non-sifted matcha
Does sifted matcha really have more volume?
Correct amount of matcha on a tea spoon

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Resonance of successful ceremony

Most of the guests were new to the tea ceremony. They are fellows from my Aikido class. I took all the utensils into the living room of my Aiki teacher’s apartment and I served tea for twelve people with my assistant. These days, I frequently think back on how good the tea ceremony went. I remember the excited faces of the fellows and kids helping on shifting matcha with their eyes alight.

 All of the guests properly sat on their knees even though I haven’t told them to do so. That’s Aikodo practitioner! Moreover, when I bowed at the beginning of the ceremony, all the guests synchronously bowed in silent. How nice it is! It instantly developed the feeling of unity in the atmosphere, and boosted my excitement. 

 I found the eyes on the person who were receiving sweets beatific. I could tell the guests were trying to sense something from my ritual performance by solemnly watching my movements with great interest. As I’m serving tea one by one, I noticed that the next guest looked slightly nerves and curious. I felt like that I could read the emotions of others without words. This session reminded me that the tea ceremony is different from casually enjoying matcha at the dining room. Maybe because you sit on your legs and bow with your hands on the floor, or the ritual gestures of the host. I don’t know what magic in it. I was more sensitive to the emotions of others. After all, I am simply glad to find that the guests were delighted. I’ve been basking in the resonance of the gathering this week.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is it really Wabi-Sabi?

Is Rikyu’s tea really Wabi? I was shocked when I read such question in a book because I wondered about the same thing before. The author says that image of Chanoyu (The Way of Tea) is Wabi-Sabi or has a rustic ambience but when he saw a black urushi-lacquered water container which is one of Rikyu’s implements, he didn’t find it rustic at all. Urushi-lacquered utensils have luster and they are even amorous. It is difficult for me to consider them rustic, too.

When I see a black urushi tea container in a tea room, I’m captivated with its elegance. Its form is extremely simple and the coating is so black and smoothly glossy. The author of the book says that urushi products usually consist of exquisite curves, and the roundness is more emphasized by the profound urushi coating. Those utensils have warmness and power.

I imagined if you arrange all the implements with old-looking items in a rustic tea room, it would be just miserable or maybe boring. Having a few items with warmness and power makes the space alive and provides a sense of formality. The author says that the beauty stands out because the luster item is in the rustic space. This is my understanding of Rikyu’s Wabi-Sabi so far. His world is not Wabi-Sabi completely. 

Kiriaiguchi black chu-natsume

Blakck chu-natsume

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How to purify NATSUME tea caddy (Video)

In the tea ceremony, you purify the tea caddy before and sometimes after making the tea by ritually wiping it with a silk cloth. This video introduces the way of purifying NATSUME tea caddy. The manner varies depending on school traditions.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to fold FUKUSA silk cloth (video)

I have avoided writing about this topic “Folding fukusa”. It is because I didn’t want people to think that the tea ceremony is complicated. Fukusa is a silk cloth to use for purifying the utensils during the ceremony. There is a certain way of folding it which is a little arduous. However I also realized that some people are interested in holding a proper tea ceremony on their own. On this blog, I’m planning to introduce a basic ceremony that you can try at home. Folding fukusa is the first thing that I leaned at the tea school. It is an inevitable manner. That’s why I think it is the time to introduce some of these arduous gestures. Once you acquire the movements, it is not that complicated.

You can enjoy matcha without fukusa of course. However, your tea will become much more authentic and fulfilling with fukusa. Your guests will simply get relaxed by watching your beautiful gestures while they are waiting their tea. 

In this entry, I’ll introduce how to fold fukusa and in two feature entries, I’ll show you how to purify a tea container and tea scoop with fukusa.  Please note that the manner of fukusa varies depending on school traditions.