First Tea Ceremony of 2020

Tea Ceremony
First tea ceremony of 2020: New year’s day, Shorewood, IL, near the place of my birth, at the home of my love’s family.

This morning’s tea began just after 10a central time. We didn’t party too hard last night, so early rise to prepare was easy for me. We set up in the living room. With three guests, Doug helped as ohonto (assistant). We opened a new matcha, from Nara, Japan. So vibrant, so delicious! This first ceremony of the year was kakoi datte, “barrier presentation.” Not what I had originally planned, but turned out to be a lovely ceremony, which everyone enjoyed.

This past week, I had been gathering all the materials necessary for travelling tea, trying to put together a set of basic tools that can be left in a kit. Like being pregnant and having the hospital overnight bag packed and ready, I thought this would make the ambitious goal of weekly pop-up tea ceremony slightly easier to manage. I have a check list! I have a couple handy totes! I thought I had everything. I had planned to do Nishiki datte, a four-panel presentation. While preparing all the dogu for ceremony this morning, I discovered I had forgotten to pack the box with the chabako boards. Eesh. Good lesson….tea is about being prepared and present. Hmmmm. Some work to do here in 2020.

Tea flowers are an important part of ceremony. Selecting and arranging them is an art in itself. Simplicity, proportion, significance, so much attention for a part of the ceremony that can easily be overlooked. For today, I kept a blossom off a live pointsetta that was headed for disposal at the end of this holiday season, and placed it with a cutting from the white pine in the back yard where we are staying. I feel like a beginner with tea flowers. I was very happy the pine cutting had such beautiful presence. I just let it do its pine thing without fussing with it too much.

Two of the three guests this morning had attended ceremony before, one had never seen it. While tea ceremony takes about 30 minutes for a group this size, we always allow time after for contemplation or conversation. Today was no exception. We sat for almost an hour after, sharing connections and history and the pleasure being still, together. Doing the first tea of 2020 with Doug’s family, near our birth town felt right. Ah, the gift of tea.

With gratitude,
Michelle