Wakei in the garden

This first of may, which is a holiday in Norway, I pitched my brand new tent in our garden. The manufacturer deliver their tents with unsealed seams, and leave it to the new owner to seal it. The best way to do this, is to pitch the tent and apply the silicon while it is standing. Also I feel it is a good idea to have tried putting the tent up once before setting out on a overnight trip where I will depend on it for shelter.

Anyway, why am I writing about this here? Well, I bought a wood stove with the tent. The stove serves two purposes, heating the interior and supplying a source of heat for cooking. I figured it can also be used for chanoyu. After adding two small pieces of wood, my little brother and myself sat down to wait for the water to heat.

I brought out my chabako and we enjoyed two bowls of cacao each. My brother is not a fan of usucha, which he has had only once before, but cacao, that he loves. We had a very enjoyable time. Next time is going to be somewhere in the Norwegian mountain, but I believe that I still have to use instant cacao powder if I want my brother to join. I figure that there is precedence for this in tea history, as Hideyoshi commanded everyone to attend his great tea gathering even if they did not have any tea and needed to use rice instead 😉




Yuki temae at the hotel room
Yuki temae at the hotel room, with the new boiler

This has been a crazy few months, but I have mostly my self to blame. I have booked a bit too many things. I have already been to Latvia, Sweden, Poland, Germany and now Denmark.

As I arrived in Denmark I realized that I had forgotten to bring my waterboiler. So the first morning I was unable to make Tea, as there was no boiler at the hotel room.

However, I was determined not repeate the Swedish “mucha” expereince. So I went straight from the training session to a shopping mall to find a waterboiler. I found a nice red boiler, and they even had them in different sizes. So I got the smalest one figuring that it would make for a good one for future travels. It is about half the size of my previous boiler.

I had a enjoyable temae at the hotel. I did Yuki, before I headed out to have a meal at a Indian resturant in Copenhagen. I also happily made a note that my utensils seems to have taken no ill effect of beeing shipped as check-in luggage.

Morning Tea #100

BondateToday was the 100th day of morning tea. I’m very happy with this tradition and after one hundred consecutive days of tea I’m comitted to continue. Maybe 2014 will be the first year with tea every single day of the year.

Todays temae was Bondate. A while back I started to do also the longer temaes in the morning. Most of the mornings I time how long it takes as I’m curious to see if my speed at doing temae changes over time and to learn more about how much time things takes.

Some “fun” statistics from my first 100 days of temae:

Looking at all the temae they take at average 21 minues when I drink the tea my self, and 27 minutes when I make tea for two and share a bowl with my wife. Koicha takes five to six minutes longer than Usucha. Shikaden takes about four minutes longer than konorai temae to do on average.

Valentine’s Day

Usually I’m not a great fan of the comerzialised American traditions that seems to grow in popularity in Norway. My wife on the other hand loves both Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. We have had Thanksgivin parties most years, but hardly any Valentine’s celebration. In the beginning my company always had a skiing trip around Valentine’s Day so I was never home.

This year I surprised my wife with a single rose and a light sprinkle of rosepetals in tokonoma for our morning Tea.  Normally roses are considered inproper for Tea because of the thorns. For this occasion I made an exception, and I also removed the thorns. Also she got a sweet instead of the bread she usually have in the morning.

I hope you all have a good Valentine’s Day and that there is someone speciall in your life that you can share it with. Maybe next year we can do it the Japanese way, I much prefer that 😛

Okashi at Valentine's Day


Morning Wife

Morning WifeI very recently changed jobs. As I had been in my previous job for a long time and it was step up for me, I felt it was a big deal. So I wanted to commemorate it. To do that, I got my self a new tea bowl. It’s a antique bowl that I bought from a collector in USA. Maybe I’ll tell you more about it in the future, but for now it is a “secret” to be discovered by guests one seki at the time.I planned on using it for the very first time for morning tea before my first day in the new job. Being very supportive, my non-tea-drinking-wife decided that she would participate on this morning gathering, even though she neither enjoys sitting in the tea room nor the taste of the tea. In advance we had several practice sessions so that she would know what to do, and just as importantly not mistreat my tea bowl ;)On the morning of my first day in the new job, we had a wonderful and quiet tea gathering from 06:25 to 06:52. Those that know my wife will say that it is a bit of a sensation that she was up and about at that time of day. What was even more sensational was the text message I got from her a few hours later:

My morning was EXCEPTIONALLY much better than usual! I’m considering joining you for tea tomorrow too…:O

Maybe starting the day with koicha will make your morning better too. If you do try, please tell me about it in the comment field


The floating Teaparty

My goal for this year is to do Tea every day. Which means that I have to bring my utensils with me when I travel. Over the course of this year I expect that I will do Tea in some weird places. This is me on a cruise ship between Norway and Germany.

I’ll try to post photos of some of the places as the year progress.

Floating tea party

The cost of enthusiasm

In my very first post about morning tea I mentioned that I was all out of tea and had to delay starting the experiment until I could get my hands on some more.  I bought 100g of Shoka and another 20g tea intended for Hatsugama from Koyamaen.

vektAs I said earlier I intend to continue having Tea every morning. At the 11th day I decided that I can’t just bee doing Hakobi Usucah every morning. Since then I have done koicha most of the mornings.

Now a few days into that I’m looking at the rate of which my 100g box is emptying, and for the first time realizing that a 100g box will not last that long. In the past a box like that has lasted months because I only had Tea once or twice a month. Now on the other hand.

In theory the perfect amount of tea for a bowl of koicha is 4g. But how much do I actually use for a bow?? Being a number junkie I decided to measure it. The last five mornings I have measured how much tea I use. I made sure that I could not see the weight as I was filling the chaire to avoid having that knowledge influence it. It was pretty consistent. Though I noticed that if I have less tea in the box I’m scooping it out of I put significantly less into the bowl. After measuring five mornings I have an average usage of 4.85g a day. This is three scoops for the guest and one extra for the bowl 😉 I guess it is time to order more Tea. For the very first time in my Tea career I will get a 200g box of Shoka 🙂 I will also get a 20g box of Koyamaen’s other koicha so that I can compare their taste against each other as it might be time to reduce the quality and price of the everyday tea. I’ll keep you posted on the result of that.

Back to the cost of enthusiasm. If I have a bowl of koicha every morning I will end up consuming a whooping 4.85g * 365 = 1.77kg of koicha annually. Not cheap, but it will be worth it.

One week later

One week has passed since I started my morning tea experiment outlined in this post. Each morning I have been getting up about 20 minutes earlier. Instead of rushing off to catch the train for work I have been heading down to the basement for Hakobi Usucha, and only after that rushing off 😉

Monday morning at 06:55

I have measured the time I use every morning for preparation, temae and cleaning. The temae times are very stable. The quickest was 12 minutes and the longest was 13 minute and 15 seconds from entering the room with the mizusashi until I brought it back out again. I’m very happy that the temae times are stable. That means that even if I rush the preparation and cleaning, I’m not rushing the temae. Which is the way it should be. That is the twelve minute of relaxation in the morning.

As can be seen from the figure below preparation time varied a lot. Day #2, #3, and #4 I used almost half the time of the other days. There are similar differences in the cleaning up part, but a bit less extreme. Apparently I have over the week become more efficient in doing the cleaning, but less efficient in preparation.

This has been a very good week, and I’m planning on continue doing teamae in the morning. Not sure I will be able to do absolutely every day, but I should be able every day I’m at home. One thing I have noticed over the week is that I’m up in the morning like clock work. Before it on occasion happened that I would snooze or even decide to sleep an extra hour. This has not happened this week, lets hope it continues.

I also did Tea a few of the evenings this week. In the habit of measuring the time I did it for those too. I discovered that preparation and cleaning for hakobi usucha and koicha takes about the same time. While the actual temae takes four minutes longer when haiken is skipped for both. Kinindate koicha with haiken takes about 20 minutes. I’m playing with the idea of doing different temaes in the morning, but until my new supply of tea arrives I have to stick to usucha to not use up the little I have left too soon.

Time used on Preperation, Temae and Cleaning each of the seven days.

Morning Tea

In bed one night trying hard to fall asleep, and failing at that, I got an idea. Doing temae in the morning would be a great way to start a day. After giving it some thought I have decided I will try it try for a week. That is to startmorning1 everyday with hakobi usucha, workday and weekend alike.

First thing I need to to is figure out how much extra time I need in the morning to do hakobi usucha before I head to the office.
Since the idea is to figure out the amount of extra time I need I will time everything that I must do different in my new morning routine. Starting when I go down into the basement. The water boiler should be my time goal for the preparation. I can’t really start the temae without hot water, and there isn’t much I can do to speed the boiler up either. From the top of the stair until the first water was boiling took about five and a half minute. However, at that time I was not entirely ready to start the temae. I had changed from regular clothing to kimono, and had started preparing the utensils, but not finished it. At 6 minute 50 seconds I was ready, sitting in front of the sadoguchi with the mizusashi. In my estimation I should with some extra practice be able to reduce the preparation time to match the water boilers five and a half minute.
Doing Hakobi Usucha at my regular speed it took me about ten and a half minutes without haiken. After that it was time to wrap it up and clean the utensils. Four minutes later I was back on top of the stairway, the kimono left behind and business attire put on. The entire process had taken 21 minute and 30 second. About half of that was the temae.
So what did I not do?
I only boiled 1.5 liters of water. My kettle holds somewhere between 3 and four litres. Doing temae with only a half filled kettle was a bit strange, so I might try to get an additional boiler.
When I came down there was enough water in the mizugame from the day before. This will probably be the case three out of four days. I did not empty out the water bucket under the sink in mizuya. I guess that I need to do this maybe every six or seventh time.
This time I did not make a proper mound inside the natsume. The reason begin that I only had about two scoops worth of mattcha. I probably saved a bit of time not doing the mound. Beside that I think I did most of what I usually done both in preparation and cleaning.
The experiment
So now that I have a clear picture of how much extra time I need in the morning I’m almost ready to start my week of morning tea. There is just one very important piece missing, and that is the Tea. For the first time in many many years I’m all out of tea, and impatiently awaiting a delivery from Japan. I’ll update the blog when I start to let you know how it worked out.

Chanoyu in the morning

20090712-20090712-IMG_0603In life I have found that there is always something that feels urgent, something that just has to be done at once. Chanoyu gives me great enjoyment and peace of mind, but it is never urgent. I’ll always be able to do it tomorrow, so that I can handle the urgent things today. However, when tomorrow arrives there are still urgent things to do. Even if I completed all the high priority items on my itinerary yesterday, there will be new ones today.

Therefore I have decided that at least once a week I’m going to make Tea my first priority. Which means it shall be the first thing I do that day. Today was the first such day. I got up 20 minutes before I normally would. Even before I went to the bathroom I put on the water boiler. I made a few slices of bread which I ate while preparing the tea-space and utensils. I’m fortunate to have it all in my apartment. I finished eating and preparing at the same time. Then I spent approximately 30 minutes making myself a bowl of koicha in the dark. It was a very nice way to begin the day.

Afterwards, I cleaned the utensils and did the other tasks of the morning. I left for work about 10 minutes late, but in a very good and peaceful mood.