As a teacher, even though I teach keiko during the week, I don’t get much chance to practice my own temae unless there is an intensive training in town, or I travel 300 miles to study with my own sensei. During the last 7 years with my sensei, I think I only saw her make tea four times.
Last week at the last keiko of the year, I made koicha for my Tuesday class so they could observe me making tea. I asked them to observe very closely and tell me at the end of the temae what they observed and what they learned. It was like a mini chakai.
They were paying attention. One student observed the little puffs of tea rising out of the tea bowl as I turned it out of the chaire. They noticed the sound of the whisk and how the water sounds different when it is poured into the bowl depending on if it is cold or hot. They were also suprised at how thin the tea seemed for the first guest, but as it cooled it thickened up for the last guest.
The first guest commented at how smooth the temae seemed as one movement flowed to the next and how it appeared that I didn’t hesitate about what to do next. Another noticed that I could talk to the guest and continue cleaning up, and how relaxed I was making tea and how that relaxed everyone in the room.
It wasn’t as if it was a perfect temae. Plenty of mistakes were made, but by not calling attention to them and recovering quickly and moving on, they were barely noticeable. As my sensei says, “If you are going to make a mistake, make it beautifully.” Even though we used the dogu that we have used in keiko every week, they became fresh with new gomei and stories about them from using them in keiko from past years.
It was a good way to end the year. We will see students back at keiko after Hatsugama, which will be January 17, Sunday. Everyone have a Happy New Year.