Our Tea Journal

 

Here you will find a compilation of all the stories we have to share about our experiences with herbs, teas, the Japanese Tea Ceremony and so much more. 

Please feel free to peruse them all and don't forget to like and leave a comment. 😊

"a day when the sun crosses the equator causing night and day to be equal in length."

Japanese cherry blossoms
Shunbun no Hi is a national holiday in Japan, a day to commune with nature and to show affection for all living things.

Every year the Vernal Equinox is celebrated as a National public holiday in Japan (unless it falls on a Saturday and then too bad no day off for you).


It is dedicated as the First Official Day of Spring and marks the end of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. (Thanks Goodness!)


It falls on either the 20th or 21st of March each year.


Rituals



With its origins in Shinto tradition, Shunbun no Hi (pronounced shoon-boon-no-hee) is a day to honour nature and care for all living things. It is also a day to remember ancestors by visiting shrines and praying for a bountiful harvest. In Japan, visits are made to the family grave, cleaning it and offering flowers and incense to console ancestral spirits.


It is also celebrated with the eating of special dango (rice cakes) called ohagi botamochi.


Japanese sweet - ohagi botamochi - made with rice and red bean paste
Japanese sweet - ohagi botamochi - made with rice and red bean paste

The annual spring holiday season which begins on Shunbun no hi lasts for approximately 16-days until April 5 (the start of Japan’s fiscal year). This is also the time when the school year ends and a new school year begins with graduates moving on to new schools and starting new chapters in their lives. Persons who work in the government or larger corporations might experience job transfers as well.


Cherry Blossoms [桜]


During this period, Japan’s sakura [桜] -- cherry blossoms -- start blooming in many parts of the country. People generally take this opportunity to travel all around the country to view the cherry blossoms or to have flower viewing picnics called hanami [花見] with friends and loved ones (weather permitting).



How do you spend your Spring Equinox?






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炭点前


"Making up the Fire"


Charcoal setting procedure for the Japanese Tea Ceremony


What is Sumi?

In a narrow sense, charcoal (sumi) is a combustible material containing carbon as a main component, which is obtained by steaming and carbonising organic matter. Products such as charcoal , bamboo charcoal, and coconut charcoal are used as fuel. In the Japanese Tea Ceremony it refers to the pieces of coal of varying sizes and shapes which are placed into the Ro (hearth) in order to ensure that there is sufficient fire available to heat the water for the Tea Ceremony.



The Utensils

The SumiTemae Ritual requires the following items: 1. the kettle (kama) 2. a basket container which contains most items needed for the ceremony - various types of charcoal (sumi) - hooks (kan) for removing the kettle from the hearth - a feather (hane) - iron chopsticks (hibashi) for placing the charcoal - ceramic container holding the incense (kogo) 3. a special folded piece of paper for placing the kettle on 4. a container of ash with a metal scoop for placing the ash in the hearth 5. large feather for final cleaning of tatami mats




The Ceremony


From bringing all the necessary items into the room to the placing of the various pieces of coal, along with the incense the SumiTemae ceremony has strict rules and sequences that must be adhered to. The Kettle (kama) is removed from the hearth in a specific way and the area is cleansed by a feather throughout the procedure. refilling the kettle is also a part of the process as is the final cleansing of the tatami mat after replacing the kettle and before leaving the tea room. There is so much more involved with the process which can only be understood through years of practice.





The Practice


At the beginning of my Tea Ceremony journey in 2017, I never thought that i'd ever be able to complete this ritual. It seemed so difficult as well outside of the realms of things I would be capable of doing. But that's the thing about practice. The more we do something, the easier and easier it seems to become. The same goes for the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The journey towards perfection is the gift not the act of perfection itself.






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Lemongrass is one of my favourite healing herbs. It is an amazing super-herb that has been used for hundreds of years for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Lemongrass is a green and white, grass-like plant with razor-like blades and it is grown across the planet in warm tropical climates.



It imparts a distinct lemon flavour when cut or crushed due to a release of an essential oil called citral. The dried herb also releases this same flavour when steeped as a tea. Lemon grass tea is an excellent detoxifying agent. It has the ability to cleanse out the toxins found inside the body particularly the digestive and cardiovascular system. It eliminates the harmful elements in the body such as uric acids, contaminants and bad cholesterol. It also improves the blood circulation as well as the digestive system.


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