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Winter Tea Ceremony

Winter Tea Ceremony

November 17, 2022

Robiraki—opening of the sunken hearth. This signals the beginning of winter tea and in Japan is done on the first day of the boar in November. The tea leaves that were picked in late April or early May are stored in a tsubo (or jar). The jar is opened and the tencha leaves are ground (with a stone grinder) into a powder to make matcha. First we gathered for water flavored with konbu (seaweed). Next we walked to the tearoom.

The guests first viewed the scroll and flowers in the tea room. The scroll read, “Kochu nichi getsu nagashi.” It means in a tsubo or jar the days and nights are long.
The flowers were a chrysanthemum with African fountain grass. They also viewed the charcoal fire heating the kettle.

The host first laid the charcoal to heat the kettle.

A moist sweet of kyokanzen (steamed sweet roll filled with bean paste) was served. Thick tea was kneaded in 2 bowls. Each bowl was for four guests.

After thick tea, the guests moved to the dining room for a bento box lunch. Each guest designed their own bento box and took a picture.

Following lunch the guests went back to the tearoom for thin tea. Two dry sweets were brought to the guests. The first was an acorn-shaped sweet from Hokkaido. The second was a sweet made from Kyoto which was stamped in different designs. This time each guest was served their own bowl of tea.

The warmth of the charcoal fire, the whistling kettle, and the chatter of guests made the opening of the sunken hearth a joyous occasion.