Chabana is the less rigid relative to the Japanese art of Ikebana. Arrangements in the Chabana style are specifically for tea ceremonies. Cha means tea, and bana is derived from the word flowers. The most important element in Chabana is that only seasonal flowers or branches should be used. Look to your own yard for inspiration or pick some wildflowers on a hike. You don’t need an acre of perennials to source a Chabana arrangement, you only need a few blooms. The bouquets should feel natural, as if you composed them in your hand and delicately dropped them into a vase. And like the tea ceremony itself, the flowers should not be long lasting but simply valued for the experience.
The vase should also reflect the season. Bamboo or basket containers are light and airy making them appropriate for summer. Porcelain, pottery or bronze vessels are right for winter. I decided to be a little more playful and perhaps more literal and compose my Chabana in some of my Chinese teapots.
For this very earthy Yixing teapot I collected some succulents I have growing in my yard. I like the way their celadon greens compliment the natural zisha clay. Tea connoisseurs recommend this type of clay pot for its purity and porous nature. The pot absorbs tiny amounts of tea each time you brew which develops a more complex taste when poured into your cup.
The busy famille noire pattern of this teapot called for the deep pink of a peony. These are the last fragile blooms on the bush until next year, making them so appropriate for a tea ceremony. A sprig of cypress from the driveway gives some height.
This tall old fashioned style yellow teapot has always been a favorite of mine. I like its shape emblazoned with a dragon and its rustic wire handles. I chose a bold cymbidium orchid from my collection and softened it with a cluster of ferns to compliment the teapot’s form.
As spring progresses to warmer days, see what your garden is offering up. Search your cupboards for a possible vase or basket, who knows what treasure you might find. And take a moment to arrange a few branches or twirling vines into a carefree composition. Perform your own little tea ceremony as a gift to yourself while you enjoy the tranquility of your Chabana.