This past January, I was given the opportunity to learn chado, or the Japanese way of tea. I was excited to delve deeper into Japanese culture through this disciplined and intricate process. Little did I know how much I was biting off…
Chado is complex. Very complex! There are over 16 different procedures. The major factor in determining the procedure is the season, winter or summer. This changes the layout of the room, what equipment is used and if you need to open/close the shoji screens. From there, it varies based on any number of reasons. If thick or thin matcha tea is being served. Whether there’s a table or not. What type of pot/kettle is used for the ceremony. And the list goes on and on.
Outside memorizing the actual procedures, the hardest aspect for me to grasp is being fluid and elegant in my hand movements. I think it’s safe to say that “graceful” is rarely a term used to describe me. I definitely could have benefited from some ballet classes in my younger years! But over the past few months, I have started to become slightly graceful. I no longer have “the claw” hand while its resting on my lap and I’m able to flick the “sexy wrist” elegantly as I’m cleaning the chawan, or tea bowl.
It’s only been 3 months of chado practice at this point. I’m a poor tea host as I can only serve thin matcha tea. But with time, I will expand and begin to learn more complex procedures. I just need to master the table procedure for thin tea that I will be performing (*gasp*) in front of Japanese nationals who will attend the open base event this late April.
It’s been challenging, overwhelming and incredibly complex (the thought of 16 procedures is still boggling my mind!) yet it has become my happy place. I look forward to meeting each Wednesday morning to focus on being in the moment, sampling new Japanese sweets and achieving perfect foam on the tea.