Chajin is the Japanese word for “tea people,” in other words, most of you reading this blog. Chajin are supposed to have especially acute sensibilities to their surroundings, which is akin to saying they have special powers. According to Chado, the Way of Tea by Sasaki Sanmi, “April is the month for this flower and that. The peak time, however, is short-lived, which is exactly one of the beauties of nature chajin appreciate. The theme for tea in the beginning of this month is predominantly cherry blossoms. Tea gatherings are held in the open air with quilted silk outer garments hanging over branches of cherry trees as screens. The chajin must be sensitive to nature, to the feeling of the season.”
The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an embodiment of this philosophy of being in harmony with nature. Every detail of the ceremony, including the setting, the utensils, and the manner of the preparation of the tea, is considered, so as to best reflect “one time, one meeting, one season.” The theme of the season, the taste of the tea, and the mindset we bring to appreciating the tea are never the same twice.
In the Washington, DC area, the cherry blossom trees bloom in late March and early April, putting a smile on the chajin. Blue skies appear more frequently and light winds are refreshing and fragrant with spring flowers and grasses. The heavier teas of winter – malty, roasted, and smoky – seem weary from carrying the burden of winter and are ready to give way to lighter more enchanting teas. Simultaneously, although thousands of miles away, chajin in the West sense the awakening of the tea plants in the East as the first small bud growths appear. For tea people, it is not enough that spring has arrived, equally important is the promise of a new tea harvest soon to follow.
Maybe it is as simple as the ancient Japanese proverb that someone without tea in them is incapable of understanding truth and beauty. To chajin, this is the way (and the why) of tea.