Even If It Does Not Fall, Prepare for Rain

Today began with a quiet morning meditation to a still Summer’s dawn, and a moment spent to boil water and steep tea. By noon, the bright sun hung overhead and its golden rays flooded every room of my apartment. As the hours passed, I worked, I wrote, I paced, and I stretched. At the moment I chose to step outside, I looked out my window to see that the weather had suddenly turned. A dark grey veil of clouds had quickly appeared and covered the sky. A moment later and the air was heavy, ready to rain.

Rather than continue with my plans, I took this shift as a sign to settle down and wait for the coming storm to pass. I set the kettle which I had filled earlier in the morning to boil again and brought together a teabowl, a whisk, a scoop, and a lacquer tea container.

Inspired by the tumultuous weather that was soon to arrive, I chose a 刷毛目唐津茶碗 hakeme Karatsu chawan (brushed slip Karatsu teabowl), the surface of which mirrored the ruffled clouds and grey skies.

While I let the water come to a boil I sifted fine green 抹茶 matcha into a small black lacquer 棗 natsume (tea container). I couldn’t help but notice that its decoration, simple gold 壺 tsubo (round pot motif), seem to recall the round 太鼓 taiko drums that surround the mythic god of thunder, 雷神 Raijin.

Sitting with the teaware set before me, I purify each object, accompanied to the sound of rolling thunder in the distance. In the tearoom, the light dimmed and darkened, broken by sudden flashes of lightning. The bright white of brushed-on glaze cast against the deep well of the teabowl.

Shadows and fissures, bamboo an linen.

The smoky pattern of the chashaku against the gleam of black lacquer, reflecting what little light gathered at the window.

Finally emptied, the bowl sat ready.

In to it I measured-out three scoops of the electric-green matcha powder. Rain beat against the pavement and quickly collected in pools out on the streets.

A half-ladle’s-worth of water into the chawan and I whisked it vigorously until a bright foam rose, clinging to the tines of the bamboo whisk.

Rolling thunder and a roiling boiling kettle merged into one sonorous roar, hissing and rumbling and then halting, arresting for a moment that allowed me to pause.

The 16th century tea master 千利休 Sen no Rikyū, in his “Seven Rules” for the Way of Tea (利休七則 Rikyū shichi-soku), advised tea practitioners to “always prepare for rain” (降らずとも雨の用意 Fu-razutomo ame no yōi, lit. “Even if it does not fall, prepare for rain”). By this he meant many things. Always have a sedge hat and umbrella ready for the guest at the 待合 machi-ai (the waiting space, often an outer open-frame hut for guests to wait before entering a tearoom). Always have a kettle ready. Always ensure you have more than enough tea for your guests, just in case one more should arrive. Always be at the ready. This is the spirit that arises when one always prepares for rain. It is core to the spirit of tea.

Another boom of thunder broke the silence and I was left staring down at the bowl of tea. The foam, forming a subtle central peak, remained full. The rain outside my window softened and the air cooled.

* Image of 千利休 Sen no Rikyū’s “Seven Rules” for the Way of Tea (利休七則 Rikyū shichi-soku) sourced via Urasenke Japan.

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Filed under Ceramics, Education, Green Tea, History, Japan, Matcha, Meditation, Tea

The Wisteria Vine Winds Up the Tree

It is Summer and balmy breezes carry the fragrant aroma of flowers and fresh leaves. As I walk around my neighborhood, I crisscross paths and can’t help but to take the long way home. Strolling over a tattered bridge under which train tracks run, I look along the causeway’s edge. A wisteria vine, in full bloom, winds up an old gnarled tree. Its bright purple flowers cascading and jostling in the wind like long silk sleeves. I breathe in the air around it in the hopes to glean some of its fleeting scent, a perfume that has probably passed and remains elusive.

Coming home, I am reminded of its beauty. The hue of its petals. The fresh verdant color of its leaves. Wanting to quell the heat that followed me inside, I opt to make a pot of tea.

Feeling inspired, I draw from my tea cabinet a small ceramic teapot, glazed in a flamboyant purple 鈞窯 Jūn yáo (Jun kiln) glaze. Next, I produce a small celadon 振出 furidashi, a ceramic sweets container which I have turned into a tea caddy. Along with this, I bring out an antique tea scoop, three Korean 분청사기 buncheong-jagi teacups and sookwoo (decanting bowl).

Letting a kettle come to a roiling boil, I quietly prepare to brew tea, enjoying the array of colors and textures set before me.

The muted grey of the Korean ceramics next to the deep purple of the teapot.

The warm color of the wooden plank against the assembled teawares.

The soft, creamy green of the celadon tea container.

Issuing-out a small measure of tea, I admire the hand-twisted leaves of a Winter-harvested 高山烏龍茶 gāoshān wūlóngchá (high mountain oolong) from 阿里山 Ālǐshān in Taiwan.

Placing the leaves into the warmed teapot, this produces an initial release of fragrance. It is sweet and ephemeral.

Pouring hot water over the leaves, I briefly witness their unrolling before placing the lid atop the teapot.

I wait as the tea brews, and as I do, I enjoy the sound of a light breeze outside my window. As this pause lingers longer, I let the tea continue to brew. As a tea now out of its season, I hope to draw forth its flavor.

Upon decanting the tea, a golden liqueur emerges, along with the bright scent of oolong tea.

Poured into three cups, I sit and relax, letting time pass, letting the heat subside. Once sufficiently cooled, I bring the first cup to my lips. A soft aroma of sugarcane and guava. A gentle flavor of honey, rock sugar, fruit and flowers arises with every sip.

As it was brewed with a glazed vessel, the tea’s flavor is brighter and crisper than it would have been had I brewed it with a more porous, unglazed Yixing teapot. The result is satisfying, refreshing, like the tranquil Summer breezes that come from the south, cooling the air that lingers in my tearoom.

I am reminded of poetry written by the Song period writer, poet, painter, gastronome, and statesman 蘇軾 Sū Shì (1037-1101):

薰風自南來,殿閣生微涼。

“Xūn fēng zì nán lái, diàn gé shēng wēi liáng.”

“The balmy summer breezes come from the south. It becomes a bit cooler at the palace.”

As time passes, so too does the heat. The sun shifts in the sky. The fragrance of tea mixing with the swirling scents of Summer.

* Translation from Chado the Way of Tea: A Japanese Tea Master’s Almanac by Sasaki Sanmi (Tuttle Publishing, 2011).

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A bowl out of season. A Summer too soon.

In the practice of 茶の湯 chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony), a strong emphasis is placed on realizing things as they come and existing in the “now” moment. For this reason, we use tea objects in accordance with the seasons. For Winter, a high-walled teabowl is employed, whereas in the heat of Summer, shallow 茶碗 chawan (teabowl) are used. To use a bowl out of season is quite peculiar, if not all together incorrect. However, sometimes we may use a teabowl for other reasons.

In chanoyu, there is a concept of 取り合わせ toriawase, roughly meaning the intentional bringing together of objects in a time and space that reflect a sentiment or feeling. Expressing oneself through toriawase can be quite specific and is often meant to bring the host and guest closer through the host’s acknowledgment of the guest’s own perspective (whether it is their life’s story, grasp of history, etc). This interplay of tea object, host and guest can be heightened if the they share a common reference point. In this way, sharing a bowl of tea can be akin to conversing in a shared or common language only known between friends.

Several weeks ago, a dear friend and fellow tea person died from a brief but intense battle with cancer. For my small cohort of friends who knew him, he was quite the bright light in our lives. A student and teacher of the Urasenke school, an artist, poet, and Zen practitioner, he often offered up his sprawling home-come-art installation to us as a practice space, a shared hermitage, and respite from our regularly busied lives. He lived in poverty but he lived richly.

Since his passing, I’ve felt a bit hollow. The small corner of my heart that his spirit once occupied had emptied. The gentle guidance he once offered seemed distant. I kept opening up the sliding door of my antique tea cabinet and would look upon the wooden box that held a teabowl he gave me when we first met. I wanted to use it but couldn’t bring myself to opening it up. The knot of silk seemed unable to come untied.

I talked with friends and lit incense. Recited sutras and meditated. I wrapped my mind around my thoughts but as much as I could, nothing seemed to come undone.

In the midst of this, I thought of offering my dead friend some tea; to memorialize his life and offer solace to his memory and to those who knew him. I opened the tea cabinet door. Pulled out the box. Undid the silk cord that held the lid on tight. Unearthed the shrouded bowl from the shallow box and unwrapped it from its crumpled cloth.

The bowl was a gift from Simon, my now-deceased friend. As a 沓形茶碗 kutsu-gata chawan (lit. “clog-shaped” teabowl), it is usually only used during the hottest days of Summer. Its low-slung walls and wide body help to dissipate the heat of the tea, allowing it to evoke a sense of coolness to the guest. Its nebulous shape and equally informal stylings as a kuro-Oribe (黒織部), “black Oribe”) teabowl are both arresting and relaxed. To use this bowl now would be intentionally unseasonable. However, as a memorial object, something to invoke the spirit of a friend, I feel it is only right.

Bringing the 風炉釜 furo-gama (“wind furnace” kettle) to a boil, I set my tea space for a somber session. A white flower in the alcove. The scent of temple incense. The dull glow of morning’s light.

As I sit down to prepare a bowl of tea, I purify each object. A white-glazed Korean porcelain tea jar.

A dark bamboo 茶杓 chashaku (tea scoop). A 茶筅 chasen (tea whisk).

I set the chashaku atop the tea jar. The dark ebony color of the bamboo in stark juxtaposition to the funerary white of the icy glaze.

These, set together, are tools for tea, implements for remembrance.

I pour a ladle’s-worth of hot water into the teabowl and wet the chasen, its thin tines relaxing and expanding as they warm.

Cleansing the irregularly-shapes teabowl, it appears to shine as if it were an imperfect ceramic roof tile that had been polished into a jewel.

Scooping-out bright 抹茶 matcha powder and placing it into the center “pool” of the chawan, the fragrant scent of fresh tea rises into the air. A sense of life returns to the melancholy space.

I draw water from the 水差 mizusashi (cold water jar) and mix it with the boiling water of the kettle. I draw water from the kettle and pour it into the chawan. As I lift the whisk and set it into the bowl, I relax my wrist and exhale, easing my shoulders and finding my center. As if settling-down to meditate, I focus my mind and whisk tea. What rises is a fine foam, lustrous and radiant.

As I sit alone to enjoy this moment with tea, I can’t help but to offer the bowl to others. As I will never again be able to enjoy tea with Simon, I offer this bowl of tea to those who knew him. To my friend Mikey who introduced me to Simon years ago and who, himself, learned about the Way of tea through him. To my friend Djefsky, whose world travels would at times cross through Simon’s hermitage in Healdsburg, California, and they would sit and laugh like two eccentrics. To others who may never know Simon, may this humble bowl reveal his sensibilities to them. May this object teach them his simple dharma.

As I sit with this bowl in hand, its dissipating warmth creeps into my palms. As I sip from its warped edge, the flavor of tea fills my body. As I finish the last of the dregs, no residual foam clings to its walls. A clean slate. A bonfire fully burned. Nothing remains.

I cleanse the bowl again and sit for a while before putting it away. Would I use it again this year? Would Summer come and I feel the need to hold it in my hands again?

I wrap it up once again and place it back into its wooden container. It stares up at me. From a funeral shroud, a hidden treasure.

I tie the silken cords across the wooden top. The artist’s mark among the shadows cast from my tearoom window.

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The First Sign of Summer

As the month of May opens, the weather warms, the air becomes heavier with moisture, and the blossoms that adorned trees in April have been exchanged with fresh, emerald leaves. The tree peony are in full bloom and the hydrangea buds are just beginning to appear as small green pearls amidst dry weathered stalks and ruffled emerging shoots.

In the twenty-four seasonal points of the year (Japan traditionally divides their year into 24 parts, 二十四節気 Nijūshi sekki, which, when divided by three, expands to 72 micro-seasons, 七十二候 Shichijūni-kō), this time is referred to as 立夏 Rikka, “Beginning of Summer”. While by Western standards, this begins the new season more than a month earlier, this intention reflects the subtle change that is now palpable to the most observant.

In the traditional 茶の湯 chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) calendar, this day marks the beginning of the use of the 風炉 furo (portable brazier, lit. “wind furnace”). While I began this earlier in May (as is often the case when warmer days arrive prematurely), I find myself still beaming over the use of the furo and especialaly its use in conjunction with the 柄杓 hishaku (bamboo ladle). Made of a thin rod of cut bamboo, the feeling of the hishaku in the hand is akin to holding a finely-crafted arrow.

Coming into the tearoom during the morning, holding the hishaku in one hand and the 建水 kensui (waste water bowl) in the other, the action marks the true “beginning” of tea preparation. Before setting the hishaku down, I raise it before me, pointing it upright, with the open end of its cup facing towards me. This gesture, known as 鏡柄杓 kagami-bishaku, literally translates to ”holding the hishaku as if it were a mirror”. As one tea person explained to me, it is as if one is looking into one’s own heart, inspecting it prior to making a bowl of tea.

Softly resting the cup of the hishaku down onto the 蓋置 futaoki (lid rest), I let my fingers slide down to the end of the long bamboo handle, gliding off as I gently set it down.

Moments pass as I begin to purify each tea object. First the antique lacquer 棗 natsume, adorned with a playful 壺 tsubo (round jar) motif.

Followed by the 茶杓 chashaku (tea scoop).

As I go through the actions of purifying the teawares, the final act is the cleanse the 茶碗 chawan (teabowl). To do this, I lift the hishaku up, pinched between the fingers of my left hand.

Next, I lift the lid of the 茶釜 chagama (spoutless tea kettle) off and set it atop the futaoki.

I scoop a ladle’s-worth if hot water out…

… and pour it into the teabowl.

I set the hishaku atop the open mouth of the kettle, letting it bathe in the rising steam.

Once cleansed and dried, the bowl becomes a vessel to accept the 抹茶 matcha.

On a hot day, I cool the boiling water of the kettle by first scooping fresh cold water from the 水差 mizusashi (cold water jar) and pouring it into chagama. This instantly quiets the rolling boil, causing a still silence to fill the tearoom.

Pulling one ladle’s-worth of water out from the chagama, I only use half the amount to make a bowl of tea, returning the rest back to the kettle.

With tea fully whisked, I enjoy it alone on this warm day. The sun beaming upon the treetops. The clouds drifting by. The scent of 伽羅 kyara (aloeswood) wafting in the air.

As I finish today’s sitting, I once again blend cold water with hot, letting the water pour down from the cup of the hishaku one more time, the sound resembling that of a gently gurgling stream.

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Spears of iris flowers. A ladle for an arrow. A teabowl as a jewel.

In the traditional Japanese calendar, May 5th marks Boys’ Day (端午の節句, Tango no sekku, or, in recent years, こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi, literally “Children’s Day”). On this day, items are on display to encourage the strength and success of children (traditionally boys): warrior helmets and suits of armor, swords, spears and arrows, and other, more playful items like paper balls and colorful spinning tops. Brightly colored fabric windsocks in the shape of carp (鯉のぼり koinobori) are unfurled and lifted high above the homes whose families have children, and leaves of 菖蒲 shōbu (sweet-flag) and 蓬 yomogi (mugwort) are hung under the eves. A strong mixture of the martial and of the more shamanistic, folk medicine cultures of Japan (and, more broadly speaking, East Asia) are put on prominent display as it was believed that to show such items would help young boys become great warriors and help them persevere during the hotter months when plague and ailments might take them.

On this day, these elements pervade Japanese tea culture as well. In the tearoom, allusions (both direct and indirect) are made to masculine aspects of Japan’s warrior culture, as too are elements of childhood.

Given that 茶の湯 chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) was deeply influenced by the warrior class of feudal Japan, these elements should come as no surprise. While I don’t consider myself to be so 武士 bushi (warrior), I can’t help but to appreciate the elegant and mindful forms such warrior-tea people developed and incorporated into their own tea practice as they sought peaceful respite from a life of violence.

On this day, I decide to inaugurate a new 茶碗 chawan (teabowl), a small contemporary piece by Sapporo-born, Chiba prefecture-based ceramicist 二階堂 明弘 Nikaido Akihiro.

For a tea container, I use a simple, unadorned wooden 平棗 hira-natsume (“flat” tea caddy).

Set with the teabowl is a new 茶筅 chasen (tea whisk) and an antique 茶杓 chashaku (tea scoop).

As I sit to greet my guest, I set the 柄杓 hishaku (bamboo ladle) atop an antique 染め付け sometsuke (blue-and-white porcelain) 蓋置き futaoki (lid rest),.

It is adorned with precious symbols to encourage wealth, wisdom and strength.

Purifying each item, I eventually wet the new chawan, warming it and letting the water run out from it. Setting it before me, I notice how water both absorbs into and evaporated from its surface, a byproduct of the artist’s unique process of lacquering and firing his ceramics. The result is a deep, shimmering purple, akin the the color of iris buds used during Boys’ Day celebrations, their sharp points representing spears.

As I lift the chashaku, I admire the natural pattern upon its surface. Pausing for a moment, I can’t help but to imagine the image of a high mountain pass, with a long, wispy waterfall cutting through it. Here, too, is an allusion to the myth of a carp pushing up a waterfall in search of a magical pearl only to become a mighty dragon in the process, a story often told to children as they push forward in life to attain success.

Offering my guests fresh 柏餅 kashiwa-mochi (sweet rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves), I begin to prepare a bowl of 抹茶matcha.

Three scoops of bright green tea powder sit in the center of the new teabowl, ready for its first taste of tea. Lifting the hishaku as if I were notching an arrow to a bow, I draw water from my iron 茶釜 chagama (spoutless tea kettle) and pour half a ladle’s-worth of water within the bowl.

Whisking the tea lightly, a fine foam is produced. Returning the chashaku to sit atop the lid of the hira-natsume, I pause before I offer-up a bowl of tea.

As this is the first time to use this new tea bowl, I place a silk brocade 古帛紗 kobukusa (a cloth square used to handle and protect teaware) below the chawan. Against this field of richly-colored silk, the new bowl and matcha seem to glow, jewel-like.

Whole-heartedly enjoyed, I cleanse the bowl and allow a final moment to enjoy the unique qualities of this chawan. In one’s hands, the bowl feels feather-light. Peering into its open void, the interior appears both dark and boundless, iridescent even in low light.

Set down, the exterior, with evidence of the artist’s hand, layers of lacquer, and marks of the kiln’s high heat, tells the story of its creation.

At this moment, I cannot help but to meditate on tea’s tumultuous past. An art marked by a meditative mindfulness, yet often born from the minds of those who were forced by their birthright to fight in bloody combat. How they sought refuge in this art. How they made it a counterpoint to a life of violence. The martial elements that permeates Boys’ Day perhaps hint at this, but, as one sits to prepare a bowl of tea, to live a life of tea, one exchanges a spear for an iris, an arrow for a ladle, and material gain for a simple teabowl.

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Remembering the Blossoms of Spring

Time has a funny way of playing tricks on you. A year can come and go in a blink of an eye. A lifetime can pass and yet we are reminded constantly of our youthful days. And even when you have taken years to master a craft, in an instant you can be brought back to the mind of a novice.

Tea can be this way too. Constantly changing, all the while one’s expectations somehow remaining fixed. As the great equalizer, tea and time has the ability to humble even the most rigorous of practitioner. This is a recollection of such a moment I recently had.

Last month I met with respected Taiwan-based tea blogger and practitioner of gong fu cha, Stéphane Erler. Having begun his blog “Tea Masters” in the early 2000s, his writing and practice has always been inspiring to me. Finally having the opportunity to meet with him, I was excited to sit and learn directly from him.

Meeting at Floating Mountain Tea House in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, we decided to sit beside the window and enjoy several pots of tea. Upon sitting down, Stéphane produced a collection of porcelain cups and a gold-plated silver teapot. Stéphane then unrolled a handmade 茶布 chábù (tea cloth) and began to arrange his equipage atop it. He explained that the cloth and selection of tea and teapots was part of a philosophical approach to brewing tea harmoniously.

Where 功夫茶 gōng fū chá may be primarily utilitarian in its approach, 茶席 cháxí (roughly translates as “tea performance”) suffuses this functional approach with an overall attention to harmony. The result is practice that is both elegant and melodic, with tea and teaware fitting into an overall cadence and rhythm attune to season, breath, and the emotional interplay of host and guest.

Opting to first brew one of Floating Mountain’s teas, we selected a 2018 信陽毛尖 Xìnyáng Máojiān (Xinyang “hairy tip”). Produced in late Spring in China’s colder Henan province, the tea leaves are thin, dark and wiry, having the appearance of pine needles. Set against the bright green and pink field of Stéphane’s chábù, tea and teaware were already bringing to life the harmony Stéphane was hoping to achieve.

Additionally, Stéphane began to further adapt his presentation to the location, employing one of Floating Mountain’s signature stone slab 茶盤 chápán (“tea tray”) into his setup.

For a brief moment we sat and enjoyed the silence before tea.

Once the water came to a boil, Stéphane began the process of warming teapot and cups.

Mindfully, he transferred the hot water from the silver teapot to the porcelain teacups.

Next, using the boiling water, Stéphane began to brew the Máojiān. Initially surprised by his choice, I was delighted to learn that both Stéphane and I shared this approach, utilizing high heat to unlock flavors of even the most delicate of teas, modulating only tea amount and brew time.

In the span of only a few breaths, the tea was steeped and decanted, producing a bright golden hue.

Set atop the wide field of pink and embroidered flowers, the feeling was fresh and serene. The result of this dramatic approach was a sweet, clean flavor that awoke a tea now a year old.

As the first of many teas we had this day, we enjoyed this opening overture together, recalling our first introduction to tea and how we have practiced this art over the decades. For this moment I felt humbled. A new friend. A new approach. Years peeling off of me as my mind returned to those early days of reading Stéphane’s blog, reminded of my “beginner’s mind”.

The tea, too, now a year old, seemed like part of a memory. A year gone by and flavor remaining despite the time that had passed. And now, reflecting on this moment almost a month since it had occurred, how the memory sweetens, softens at its edges, until it, too, will fade. A flavor wafting from a cup. An impression on the mind. A field of flowers remembered in a woven fabric.

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The tree peony flowers. The season of the furo begins.

In tea, there are two major shifts that mark the year: the time when the 炉 ro (sunken hearth) is used and the period when the 風炉 furo (portable brazier, lit. “wind furnace”) is used.

Encompassing both symbolic and functional reasons, the shift from ro to furo at the height of Spring reflects the necessity of the tea person (茶人 chajin) to instill a sense of coolness in the tea space. With the furo, one is able to move the source of heat further away from the guest, which, as Summer approaches, is not only preferred but necessary. The arrival of the furo in early May happens coincidence with the blossoming of 牡丹 botan (tree peony).

For me, a person who practices both 茶の湯 chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) and 功夫茶 gōng fū chá (a traditional Chinese method of brewing tea), the shift to furo is a joyous occasion. The furo which I use is a replica of a Song period (960-1279) kettle. In many ways, this shift represents a uniting of these two traditions.

Today as I stare out of my tearoom window upon the deep verdant green treetops, I am drawn to make tea. Alone, I bring out my furo and 茶釜 chagama (spoutless tea kettle). As I wait for the water to come to a boil, I light incense, a gentle 白檀 byakudan (sandalwood), and scoop fresh-ground 抹茶 matcha powder into a red and black lacquer 棗 natsume tea container. Set together with an antique Vietnamese blue-and-white teabowl from the mid-to-late 15th century, a new 茶筅 chasen (tea whisk) and 茶杓 chashaku (tea scoop) both by the Nara-based artisan 谷村丹後 Tanimura Tango, I finally sit to enjoy an informal 初風炉 sho-buro, the first use of the furo.

Purifying each tea object offers-up small landscapes and vistas. Valleys of carved lacquer.

The mottled skin of a bamboo stalk.

The wiry canopy of finely cut bamboo paired with the rough texture of an old bowl’s rim.

Once cleaned, the antique vessel seems to glow in the soft light of the day.

With no flower set in a vase, the cursory painting of a tree peony blossom within the center of this antique bowl will have to do.

Lifting the tea scoop from atop the red lacquer lid of the natsume, I begin to measure-out scoops of tea into the 茶碗 chawan (teabowl).

Three scoops and a light tap of the chashaku within the inside of the teabowl as a sign of respect.

Pulling water first from my 水差 mizusashi (fresh water container) to then pour into the boiling water of the chagama, I finally ladle one half-scoop of water into the blue-and-white chawan. Whisking the matcha into a fine foam, the small space of my tearoom is transformed by the scent of tea. Where once the warm, spicy scent of sandalwood lingered, now the aroma of a tea field in Spring arose, overtaking my senses and lifting my spirit.

With teabowl before me, I bowed to all that worked together to bring me to this moment.

Another sho-buro! Another Spring! Another time to see the tree peony blossom again!

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