What is a Tea Gathering?


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.

茶会:3-12名の参加者が同席にて、お点前を拝見し菓子と一服のお茶を頂くのが一般的である。 通常所要時間は30分ほど。

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



  • 茶懐石を頂く
  • 炭手前を拝見する
  • 生菓子を頂く
  • 庭で気持ちをリセットする
  • 茶室に戻って、濃茶を頂く
  • 炭手前を拝見する
  • 干菓子と薄茶を頂く

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).

A Scroll for the Waiting-Room (Latin in Gold-Leaf) 待合室の掛軸 (ラテン語で金箔)