Saturday, May 25, 2019

Arranging the Ash: Haigata (灰形)

Haigata : Japanese incense ceremony. There are people in the world who do incense ceremony exclusively, study it for many years. I have recently gotten into doing a weekly haigata ceremony. I have put together a boxed collection for each season.

It is, in its very essence, a playing with and forming of the sand around which one places incense. Like drawing lines in the sand. Jesus did that when people were shouting alot and angry once.

"He who knows enough is enough
will always have enough" --Lao Tzu.

Knowing when enough is enough. Oft times one half slender stick of incense is enough!

It is a fun thing to do, when one has the time. Or to even ponder when one finds oneself in times of contention. Later on in the season, or, more likely at the end of summer, I will do a report on the preparation of sand for placing a kettle on. It is the same process for preparing sand for haigata. It involves copious amounts of tea and must be done outdoors over the space of 2-3 weeks. It is like playing in water and sand or like making a gentle cement. Until then stay steeped.

A post script:
I have since reverted back to the original format for this blog, yet with a more serious charcoal colour to contrast with the brightness of these coming summer days. I hope you find it fine to rest your eyes upon.
Best,
Matthew.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Autumn In Between

"And so we begin again"

In the grand circle of the seasons, winter returns. Summer furo season with the above ground kettle and now ro season time for indoor warmth and closed windows. So too I have been practising all summer and autumn with the ladle yet now find myself in the lead up to winter doing the more simple tea ceremony with a small kettle of water. It is this traditional "in between time" in the midst of the hustle and bustle that many tea people merely use their small kettles and refrain from using their ladles and charcoal fires until closer to the beginning of winter.

Back to the beginning, as it were. So too with any learning a martial art or a second language: We often find ourselves years later going back to the beginning to brush up on things.

One of the advantages of teaching: It keeps you in touch with the fundamentals from whence practical things arise from :
much like the steam rising from a kettle in late autumn. Therein if found Wabi Sabi: The sentiment of the old, reminiscing, the mild sadness of going back to the humble beginning again and thus the joy found in the simple. This feeling and appreciation is what is found in the ritual of tea and in its subtle differences throughout the seasons.

(furo- wind kettle/ above ground pottery or cast iron for containing charcoal fire for tea)
(ro- fire pit in floor for winter cooking and tea)



Friday, January 5, 2018

Tea Ceremony Practicing in TBay

I've begun practicing tea ceremony meditation using my sisters yoga mat. It'll be perfect for this coming spring. Coming soon to a park near you. I also have kimono sets for it as well.
This winter it's practice practice along with making ladles out of scrap wood.
I'm also making tea scoops from snow broken branches but more on that later.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Through!? Consuming ! Thick and Thin : Tea via Travelling Tea Time

Well, I have started making tea savories (wagashi) here at home and have concocted a few Canadianized summer maple syrup dishes to serve up with tea as well over this summer. I'm working on a Canadian Kaiseki style tea ceremony as well : Dining with thick as well as thin tea. Although I will need to consult with some of my more culinary friends and family regarding this as I, similar to John Snow, know little of such things as my more experienced professional friends in that field.


Indeed, as my country of Canada is a fine multicultural one, I'm working to, on occasion, expand the tea ceremony to be more than merely Japanese and thus I shall consult with those who know much more that I. Cultural appropriation? I shall do some consulting to make it culturally appropriate to the particular ceremony and properly considerate. For each event via the upcoming Facebook site WhereWiskWay (Travelling Tea Time) I will post info detailing the ceremonial context of the particular upcoming ceremony.

 I shall be with you through thick and thin tea rain sleet hail thunder with side orders of lightning and whatever else this season seems to be bringing us here in Thunder Bay. Indoors, outdoors whenever whatever the weather : Where Wisk Way I say.

Below you'll find my Travelling Tea Time map to not only tea houses and tea shops in town but to scenic outdoor locations for upcoming tea ceremonies. Soon I shall be creating a Facebook site for upcoming events and locations (both indoor and outdoor) year-round. Stay posted and do stay frostily ice-steeped !

Monday, June 20, 2016

Preparing for Summer

As it is summer now, earlier today I unpacked and placed a seasonal scroll

For summer I have put together a nodaté (野点)tea set for ceremony in the parks here in Thunder Bay. 

Nodaté is Japanese for outdoor tea ceremony and chabako is Japanese for tea box.

 For my nodaté chabako I repurposed an old box of Korean tea cookies. 

I find the post colonial cultural fusion wonderfully scintillating as the set can and will be used not only for Japanese tea ceremony but also to recreate within a Canadian context the earlier Korean and also the even earlier, original Chinese green tea powder (matcha) ceremony

The thermos is kind of a more modern Canadian element I call it 'Blue Lightning' fitting for the weather we've been having off and on recently in this here Bay of Thunder by the seemingly lazy Nanabijou. 

(Oftentimes I find myself waving my hands at him like Tom Cruise in "Minority Report" but sadly to no effect. Perhaps maybe its my rather spindly pipe-cleaner like arms)....

With regards to the hobby of nodate chabako crafting I find I'm often inspired by the work of a potter of the U.S part of America @ Chabako Crazy.

Friday, November 27, 2015

One Lean, Mean, Green Tea Making Machine

It seems we're one step away from the Star-Trek replicator for food and beverages. We're on the verge of calling out, similar to Cpt.Picard, "Tea. Matcha-Green! -- Not too hot". 

The electronics company Sharp has produced a Matcha-Maker that grinds the tea leaves, adds water not too hot and foams it up. You can also add milk to the machine to make a green tea latte too.






Not too hot : no hibashi 火箸 needed here.
More info on the Central North American / U.S version can be found here : Sharp U.S.A : Tea-Cere. Also more details here on Akihabara News.

The U.S version of it is available on Amazon.com :  Sharp TE-T56U-GR Tea-Cere Matcha Tea Maker, Green

And those in Japan can find it on the global Rakuten site, here : Te-TS56V-R Herushio Tea Presso among other places. Although that particular one seems to be an earlier model perhaps?
"No gears in here ! (with Hishaku close to heart) ;-)
As of course, this machinery can never take the place of a fine meditative Zen ceremony. 
The machine made option, minus the ceremony (save for the serving and taking of tea), is of course a   slightly more coarse but quicker option for those so inclined.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Teahouse Start : from Bexco with Love

 It seems the Goryeo style tea ceremony is coming back in vogue earlier than I had expected! Korean made products are coming to the market that are for use in the powdered green tea ceremony that is known as the Japanese tea ceremony but was also the tea ceremony of old Korea during the Goreyo Dynasty. During the most recent International Tea and Craft Fair and Busan's convention center Bexco I found plenty of booths serving and selling powdered green tea each with the prominent bamboo whisk for whisking it to a froth. Below was one of the more innovative vendors : 


 as you can see in the picture above she had not only green tea powder for use in ceremony but also other green leaves used in Korean 'teas' for whisking up ! For example : in the picture above from left to right: Barley sprout powdered tea, Mugwort leaf powdered tea, Mulberry leaf powdered tea and Lotus leaf powdered tea ! All of the ingredients ground up into powdered form are from their lands in Hadong; west of Busan. Their prices are average indeed : 40$ 40,000 won for a package that is 2x the size of the small cans of powdered green tea that come from Japan. I purchased a package of their barley sprout powdered tea. Their website is sadly not up and running but you can call them @ 055-883-8517 or 011-840-0022 as it says on their labels.

Thanks to their business there are now several non-caffeinated options for tea ceremony!
 Stone grinders are also being produced in Korea for grinding leaves into powder the old fashioned way although they are currently selling for 3million won each (about $3000USD). A nosebleed of a difference from the stone grinders sold in Japan for $200USD.

 Also at the convention in BEXCO we found tatami mats!!! In smaller squares rather than the traditional rectangles. You can buy 6 for around 100,000won! A decent price indeed! For those in North America : Amazon's Foldable Tatami Mat sells for $113. Here in Korea the tatami mat squares can be ordered at the Hagihara brand home decor shop soon to be located in Busan's Centum City. They are currently opening a branch here. We bought ours @ the convention hall next to the Tea and Craft Fair where they had a home decor convention.

As you can see below I put just two squares out to practice my level 1 tea ceremony as I intend to start teaching introductory courses in tea ceremony this summer. Their small size makes them wonderfully portable and I'm able to bring them outside! Coming to a park near you soon!


Arranging the Ash: Haigata (灰形)

Haigata : Japanese incense ceremony. There are people in the world who do incense ceremony exclusively, study it for many years. I have rece...