Unique Tea Gatherings
Tea gatherings fall into two broad categories:
Abbreviated Tea Gathering: Chakai (茶会)
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: Chaji (茶事)
Typically, there are 2-4 guests. This is an intimate experience that often lasts up to four hours. During those four hours, guests
- are served a seasonal meal
- watch the charcoal being set
- are served a main sweet
- refresh themselves in the garden
- return to the tea room and drink thick tea
- are served a dry sweet and a bowl of 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 “ichigo ichie” (一期一会).