In getting to know Rikyu's chanoyu, it is very helpful to consider the tea gatherings that he gave. Through a strict adherence to etiquette during tea procedure he added tension to the tea gathering and he gave weight to the encounter of host and guest with the phrase 'ichigo ichie' which means 'once in a lifetime encounter'. Also, through the ingenuity that Rikyu exercised with regard to the utensils, the cuisine and the tea house, he created in the tea gathering an embodiment of the spirit and beauty of wabi.
Firstly, Rikyu had expert craftsmen make utensils that suited his own wabi-cha. This is how Chojiro's Raku tea bowl and Yojiro's chanoyu kettle came into being. It could also be said that the simplicity of kaiseki (chanoyu cuisine) 'one soup dish, three other dishes' was brought about by Rikyu's concept of wabi. Rikyu's ingenuity even extended to the tea house. The still-existing Tai-an tea house's two mat room has the smallest space possible for a host and guest, as an expression of wabi. Another important aspect of the tea room is the nijiriguchi (crawl-through entrance). Due to all of these elements the inside of the tea house becomes a holy space that is full of tension.
The documents which can give us an idea of an actual tea gathering are the records called chakaiki. The tea records of practitioners who were active at the time of Rikyu, such as 'Matsuya kaiki', 'Tennojiya kaiki' and 'Sotan Nikki' tell us of Rikyu's tea gatherings and of the state of chanoyu at that time.
In his later years, from Tensho 18 (1590) to Tensho 19, Rikyu held about a hundred tea gatherings, as we are told in 'Rikyu Hyakukaiki' (Record of Rikyu's Hundred Tea Gatherings). People from many walks of life attended Rikyu's gatherings, including daimyos such as Tokugawa Ieyasu and Mori Terumoto, wealthy merchants of Sakai and Hakata, Zen priests from Daitoku-ji and so on. Also in this tea record we can see how he made use of the red Raku tea bowl called 'Kimamori', one of the 'Rikyu shichishu' ('Rikyu seven') tea bowls that he especially liked and gave names to, and the 'Hashidate' tea jar that he loved to use. The menu for kaiseki is also recorded. So we can get to know the chanoyu of Rikyu's later years.