Hanami is a long-standing Japanese tradition of welcoming spring. Also known as the “cherry blossom festival,” this annual celebration is about appreciating the temporal beauty of nature. People gather under blooming cherry blossoms for food, drink, songs, companionship and the beauty of sakura (cherry blossoms).
Celebrations begin in the day and often last into the night. The festival dates vary by location and year, as the trees bloom at different times with weather and climate variations, but they are typically in late March through May and last a few days to a few weeks.
Although the traditional beverage of choice for hanami is sake, you can also drink tea. Seasonal foods (like wagashi- Japanese sweets) and seasonally decorated teaware can echo the beauty of nature in your hanami tea ritual. For a pleasing floral-tart taste, fresh, organically grown sakura can be blended with green tea or black tea and then brewed in a kyusu (teapot with or without floral decorations).
You can also embrace the wabi-sabi nature of hanami by drinking organic matcha from a chawan-style teacup. This year, I plan to celebrate hanami with friends over matcha, wagashi, assorted Japanese foods and some seasonal tea accoutrements.
A few seasonal tea items a friend in Japan gave me are pictured here. The pink cloth is a fukin (washcloth) portraying chawan (tea bowls). The blue chawan pictured have hot matcha in them, hence the steam. On top of the fukin is some sakura kaishi (papers with cherry blossom motif), which we’ll use to eat wagashi before drinking matcha, and a kyusu-shaped hashioki (chopstick holder), which we’ll use for holding chopsticks (obviously).
How will you celebrate springtime with tea this year?
-Lindsey “Vee” for Samovar Life