Jun 5, 2008

The art of tea

When I think of art I often think of painting, sculpture, photography or something with a tangible result; something to hold onto or point to and say this is art. I don’t often think of the performing arts like dance, theater or music. I read an interview with some rock singer who said that he’d been performing a few of the same songs for 20 years and at every concert he gave, people always shouted out requests for the same songs. He said that nobody would think of asking Leonardo to paint the Mona Lisa over and over again for 20 years.

The art of tea is unlike the fine arts, somewhat like the performing arts, and yet different from them. There is no tangible result from the art of tea, and tea is not a performance with the artist doing and the audience watching or listening. The art of tea is participatory. All the senses are engaged and stimulated. Host and guests create the experience together, with harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. The host strives to serve the guests and the guests do their utmost to appreciate what the host has done.

A lot of people look at chado and think it is rigid with too many rules; that creativity is stifled with tradition and etiquette. And yet, within the context of the rules, there are infinite possibilities to create a unique experience. The host has so many decisions and choices to make to pull off a tea gathering. When, where, and who to invite. Coming up with a theme, choice of utensils, type of temae, what to serve for sweets, and so much more.

For example, I was invited to a tea gathering and the host requested that there be no talking during the gathering. She held it on a weekday at dawn. We were given a light meal to break our fast and then she served sweets and made tea. As we finished the tea gathering the sun was rising and we went on our way to work. What an incredible way to start the day. Ichigo ichie – one lifetime, one meeting.

As you grow in your tea life, be open to the possibilities and use your creativity to create unique experiences for your guests. It’s the art of tea.

No comments:

Post a Comment