Koicha – （濃茶） The main event of, reason for, and single most important place where the Teishu shows his hospitality / heart / feelings is in the koicha. It is for the koicha that all the preparation aims, all the tastes prepare and all the utensils support. CHA means koicha.
Koicha temae are done by hakobi (carrying utensils in and out) or using Tana; 10 of the 16 konarai are koicha; all 5 of the Shikaden; and both daisu denpo; many of the shichjishiki feature Koicha.
All the ways of preparing koicha are almost identical in format- after purification of tea container and teascoop, teishu warms the bowl, checks the chasen, dries the bowl, adds tea, adds hot water twice, kneads the tea, serves it to the Guests, and waits while they all drink it. When they have finished, the teishu rinses the teabowl and whisk, returns teabowl to a minimally clean condition as it was at the start of the procedure, and replenishes the water in the kettle. Guests ask for Haiken of the tea container, scoop and pouch or equivalent. The teishu places the requested utensils out, takes away the Kensui and teabowl, deals with the Mizusashi (carries it out or replenishes the water) and closes the door, so Guests can haiken in private. Shokyaku, after returning all the utensils, asks the Teishu questions about them.
Minute variations meisui-date / tsurube (usually using a well-bucket; Guest asks for a taste of the “famous water” being used, before tea is made)
Dogu related variations:
- Obuta Atsukae
- ceramic Daikai (naga-0) Chaire
- Karamono-class chaire, Bondate, etc.
- Natsume: Otsu-bukuro, Tsutsumi-bukusa
- Shikaden temae and above deal with using special utensils karamono, etc
Once the Teishu has finished the closing procedures, the Shokyaku will request, When the Guests have fully examined them and the utensils have been replaced, the Teishu returns to answer the Shokyaku’s various questions and returns with the utensils to the mizuya. Of course the questions are preceded by praise of the piece and the answers are received with thanks.
During usucha, Hanto prepares for Guests’ departure; watering roji and opening all doors and gates, collecting all unnecessary utensils, watering out to street, etc.
Also have all box lids, tubes ready for Haiken- use tray or larger lids (kettle, robuchi) on bottom.
A single Teishu can use the Haiken period to at least water the roji and open a few doors. Hanto may also begin cleaning and putting away utensils, quietly. After Haiken, aisatsu and closing of door, Teishu returns to mizuya.
Final send-off Miokuri （見送） Teishu opens the door, everyone bows together. Teishu slides into room and Shokyaku slides forward with fan in front. Words of gratitude are exchanged between Teishu and each Guest in turn- how wonderful everything was, what a good time everyone had, how inadequate (Teishu feels), what a good experience, how much work it was (for Host), let’s do this again, don’t get tired, etc.
Please do not bother seeing us off.
O-MIOKURI GO-MUYOH NI （お見送り御無用に）
After another sorei, Teishu slides out. Guests all thank Shokyaku for taking care of them.
(Before exiting.) Shokyaku:
Pardon me for going ahead of you.
O- SAKI NI （お先に）
Shokyaku Haikens Tokonoma, (Tana,) Kama and leaves through nijiriguchi. Shokyaku however does not return to Machiai just yet, but waits outside, slightly off Roji’s main path. The other Guests follow same pattern but Tsume also must take Tabako bon and higashi bon back to mizuya or kyujiguchi. It is more thoughtful to place them somewhere, not in front of the door, where the Host does not have to deal with them before appearing at the nijiriguchi.
When all Guest(s) have departed seki, they wait in a line on the roji, Jikyaku farthest away, 3G, 4G, Tsume; then Shokyaku steps back on roji and waits for teishu to reappear at nijiriguchi. When teishu hears tsume close nijiriguchi with solid noise, teishu opens mizuya door, if necessary moves tabako-bon and higashi bon out of the way, then goes to nijiriguchi and opens it.
ALL SOREI silently.
Teishu watches as the Guests, still in that order, return down roji to machiai. Passing through the machiai, the Guest(s) refrain from dissipating the special feeling by maintaining a minimum of conversation. In the machiai, there is a final Aisatsu among Guest(s) and in the genkan, they all prepare to depart.
The Clean-up – Atokatazuke
When the Guests have left the roji, the Host returns to the seki. One thing recommended by Ii Naosuke is to contemplate the chaji just finished and imagine how the Guests enjoyed it and where they might be on their way home. Moderns do not usually have this luxury and need to get on with getting things returned to their proper condition. Think of the chaji as being 2/3rds over at this point. If the chaji takes place away from home, everthing should be packed and taken away before final cleaning can begin.
First thing is to get all fires picked (ro or furo, hibachi and/or te-aburi, tabako bon hi’ire, ganro or mizuya furo, kitchen kakuro) and in the sumi keshi-tsubo. Then the kettle(s) can start drying on the ro/furo.
If you must leave with a furo or kama, dry the kama for as long as possible. Pack the furo into its box with a green leaf (large and non-poisonous) on the ash. Do not put the lid back on the kettle when you put it in its box and leave the lid off the box as well.
Water must be emptied and utensils dried. Tea emptied from utensils, cleaned and boxed. Teabowls need to be washed, dried. Upon returning, the ceramics, bamboo and lacquer need to be put somewhere to dry, preferably several days, outside their box. Absorbent ceramics will release moisture so be sure something not harmed by moisture is under the ceramic, not its box lid for example. Ko removed and any neriko yogure wiped out.
After the Guests have returned home, they should write down their impressions, the utensils they remember, etc. then compose a letter of thanks to the Host. It is not too soon to start planning a return invitation.