This image is part of a short series, A Celebration of Tea, which began here.
Matcha green tea is usually served with sweets, of which there are innumerable kinds, but which can generally be called wagashi (和菓子). What unites the different varieties is the emphasis on seasonal themes. Here we see the leaves of autumn descend onto our plate. Later will come winter shapes, like the tsubaki or camellia flower.
These sweets are a reminder that the way of tea is not just kimono and finery and rules. It is the awareness of life as it is being lived. "One time, one meeting," (ichigo ichie; 一期一会) is a phrase often used to describe the central meaning of the way of tea: live each encounter as a unique and precious experience. As Yamanoue Sōji, one of Rikyū's great disciples, wrote in 1590: "Although it may be an ordinary tea gathering from the time you enter the roji [the path to the teahouse] until you leave you should give respect to your host as though it were a meeting that could occur only once."