This time, I would like to talk about Rikyu’s Seven rules, which are often heard in the Tea ceremony.
- “Make the tea good to drink.”
- “Lay the charcoal so it boils the water.”
- “The flowers should be as they are in the fields.”
- “In summer suggest coolness, in winter warmth.”
- “Be early for the appointed time.”
- “Even if it’s not raining be prepared.”
- “Be considerate of the guests.”
These words were originally the answer when Rikyu’s disciple asked what the true appearance of the tea ceremony was. At that time, the disciple said, “I know such a thing, but …” and Rikyu responded, “If I can do it enough, I will be your disciple.”
Shorei, a monk of Daitokuji, who heard this story said, “Rikyu’s answer is the best. Because Choka monk said, even young children know that they should not do all evil and all good should be done, but when it comes to doing it, it is quite difficult even for an eighty-year-old man.”
This story was described as “NANPOROKU” (南方録). Each of the seven rules of Rikyu shows the essence of the Tea ceremony, so let’s take a closer look one by one.
1. Make the tea good to drink.
The simple and clear word is “The tea should be made so that the guests feel good when they drink”, but the expression “good to drink” is used as a precaution to make customers drink deliciously.
It can be said that the specifics for making the tea “good to drink” is the ratio of the matcha and hot water. It’s not delicious if the amount of matcha in a bowl is enough to fill your stomach, but the amount that you can drink with three and a half sips is gone too fast.
It does not mean that you have to drink matcha in three and a half sips, but that this number is just enough. The last half refers to drinking the rest of the tea while making a small slurping sound to indicate that the tea is delicious.
This serves as a form of communication between the guests and the host. The term “good to drink tea” does not only refer to the taste of the guests but is also something that shows appreciation and touches the heart of the host. The satisfaction of the tea extends beyond the guests and into the joy of the host who prepared it wholeheartedly.
When the guests admire and appreciate the bowl after having tea, they should be mindful of any remaining matcha to avoid any spills or splatters on the tatami mat.
When you can communicate like this, you can say that it is a good tea to drink in the true sense of the word.
To be continued…
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