What is a Tea Gathering?

一期一会

Unique Tea Gatherings

Tea gatherings fall into two broad categories:

Abbreviated Tea Gathering (茶会—chakai)

Typically, this is a gathering of perhaps 3-12 people in a tea-room.  Guests watch one procedure, have a sweet, and drink one bowl of tea.  A “chakai” usually lasts about 30 minutes.

Unabbreviated Tea Gathering (茶事-chaji)

Typically, there are 2-4 guests. This is an intimate experience that often lasts for four hours.  A seasonal meal is served, charcoal is set twice, a main sweet is served with thick tea and a dry sweet is served with thin tea.

In both cases, the host and guest work together to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  The host, through careful and creative preparations, sets the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime interaction.  The guest, through anticipation and careful attention, prepares to receive the efforts of the host with grace and gratitude.

This is famously expressed as 一期一会 ichigo ichie.

A Scroll for the Waiting-Room (Latin in Gold-Leaf) 待合室の掛軸 (金箔でラテン語)
Flowers for the Alcove (Scarlet Kadsura & Chinese Bellflower) 美男葛と桔梗
The host, serving the guests during a chaji.
A view of the chaji tearoom from the entrance. 躙口から