How I prepare my favorite cuppa, matcha, ideally.
In the most ideal setting, I will be wearing a kimono and I will be preparing a quaint tatami room in a hut surrounded by evergreens and moss, perhaps some rocks here and there. In the alcove, I will be hanging a scroll with a kanji character or a poem written in hiragana reflecting the day’s theme. There will be a chabana (flower arrangement) in the corner but nothing ostentatious for today is not about beauty.
By sunrise, I will be preparing the accouterments in the adjacent room we call the mizuya, while I wait for my esteemed guests. Thoughtfully chosen for the occasion is a chawan (a tea bowl), a chasen (bamboo whisk), chashaku (bamboo scoop), hishaku (bamboo ladle), mizusashi (fresh water container), futaoki (lid rest), kensui (waste water vessel) and the wagashi (sweets) that I made especially to match the season. Finally I will prepare the most important element of the ceremony, matcha, a finely ground green tea from this year’s spring harvest from the tea fields of Wazuka. The aroma of the tea fresh from the tin will remind me of warm milk and cookies. While I reconcile its emerald color to its baked goods fragrance, I will carefully and artfully transfer the sieved bright green powder into the natsume (tea caddy made of resin) and form a mound in the shape of Mt. Fuji.
When the guests arrive, I will welcome them into the garden, allow them to appreciate the surroundings while I light the coal in the ro (sunken hearth) for it is winter or the furo (brazier) if it is summer. This will warm the water in the kama (cast iron kettle) and the guests when they enter the chashitsu (tea room) one by one in time for the chakai (tea gathering). Formally we will have a simple, thoughtful and seasonal meal called kaiseki just to prepare the stomach before drinking tea.
However today I was as usual alone and nowhere near a tea house. I only have the essential utensils for making a nice cup of matcha in my humble dining room and a piece of dorayaki (red bean filled pancake) I made yesterday to go with the cuppa. I sat down, purified my chawan, scooped the matcha into the bowl and whisked until fine emerald foam surfaced. I raised my cup with both hands in gratitude and sipped the green elixir. Serenity... That was everything I needed to start my day. After all, the way of tea or chado is all about appreciating the moment and of course drinking tea.