Japanese tea ceremony is a ritual and ceremonial method of serving and drinking tea. This is done to increase health, awareness and empathy. The tea used in this ceremony is a kind of powdered green tea called Macha. The purpose of the tea ceremony in Japan is to create a bond between the host and the guest as well as to achieve inner peace. The tea ceremony is very important in Japanese culture, because in the past only selected Zen monks and warrior nobles held it. In the following, we will tell you about this traditional ceremony and its history.
What is a Japanese tea ceremony?
“Chanoyu”, “Chado” or “Sado” in Japanese means tea ceremony. The purpose of this ancient Japanese tradition is to prepare and drink tea in traditional teahouses with tatami mats. In this ceremony, the guest enjoys the hospitality of the host in an atmosphere away from the speed of daily life.
The tea ceremony in Japan is a very important cultural activity and a combination of silence, respect and symbolic purification. The Japanese practice for years so that they can finally complete each step of the ceremony with the least amount of mental effort. There is also this way of thinking about martial arts and other Japanese customs.
Today, tea ceremonies are held in Japan for entertainment and there are places dedicated to this work. Various organizations hold tea ceremonies throughout Japan with varying degrees of prestige and recognition. Some traditional gardens, cultural centers and hotels perform this ceremony to attract tourists. Kyoto and Oji are the best tourist destinations to enjoy Japanese tea culture.
Although some Japanese people only make tea for fun, most Japanese people consider it a traditional art and call it tea art.
A variety of Japanese tea ceremonies
In general, there are two types of tea ceremonies:
- Chakai or informal tea ceremony;
- Tea or formal tea ceremony.
Chakai, which is a typical period for serving tea, lasts only 45 minutes. However, training in this ritual can take years. The tea ceremony is attended by senior tea masters and a traditional Japanese dish called Kaisky is served. This ceremony may take up to 4 hours.
Major Japanese tea ceremonies, such as Orasenke and Omutsenke, teach the various stages and methods of the ceremony.
A variety of Japanese tea ceremonies are held in different seasons of the year. The simplest tea ceremony in Japan is the Shozumi ceremony, which serves a kaiski meal.
Stages of tea ceremony in Japan
Japanese tea ceremony includes the preparation of the teahouse, sweets and tea. Serving tea is usually accompanied by a simple talk about the weather, but the participants in the ceremony are silent during the preparation phase. That’s why tea is also a form of meditation. At the tea ceremony, the host prepares the tea and serves it to the guests, but does not drink anything himself. This is because the Japanese believe that everything in this ceremony is for the guests to have fun. In Japanese, the stages of a tea ceremony are called temae.
1. Preparations for the Japanese tea ceremony
It is very important to prepare before the tea ceremony. Before the ceremony, the teahouse and surrounding gardens are cleaned and tidied. They also send out invitations to guests a few weeks in advance.
They also pay special attention to the layout of the tea room. There are no tables or chairs in this room and everyone is sitting on the floor. Mattresses and paper doors in the room should be replaced from time to time. Sometimes the doors of the room are lower than usual, so that guests have to bend when entering. The reason for this is to create a sense of humility in the participants of the ceremony. The tea room is decorated with a beautiful royal or tokunoma full of fresh flowers.
Before the ceremony, special guests are asked about the type of tea and food served with it. The day before the ceremony, kaiski food is prepared. This traditional Japanese meal is actually a small and delicious dish consisting of rice, vegetables and soup. The quality ingredients used to carefully cook the kaiski have made these meals popular.
Japanese sweets are usually served with bitter tea. If people are invited to a tea party for the first time, they will serve more modern or simpler dishes. Hot water is prepared just before the ceremony and poured into a Japanese coma or iron pot.
2. Catering to guests
The first stage of the Japanese tea ceremony is the reception of guests in the teahouse. The host or weaver opens the paper door and puts all the dishes on the tatami mats to begin the ceremony.
The host must perform some of the movements he has already practiced. For example, he should be able to stand up straight and bow to guests during the ceremony. After everyone is seated, guests are introduced to Kaisky food.
Usually, as soon as the main guests have finished eating, they are offered sweets. As the tea is being prepared, the main guest or shokyaku asks the host where the tea utensils were made and who made them.
3. Prepare tea
As the tea is being prepared, the ceremony begins. These ceremonies must be performed in silence. First clean the tea or natsomeh dish and a teaspoon or cup with pieces of silk cloth. Then the host is washed with a special mixer for tea and a cup of tea or teapot and dried with hemp cloths.
The host then pours one and a half cups of green tea or macha into the tea bowl and then gently pours the comma into the water bowl with a ladle. The professional host knows how much water and green tea is needed to make tea. The host should stir the tea powder quickly so that a green insole forms on it, right in the center of the bowl. At this point, the tea is ready to serve.
4. Serve tea
After the tea is ready, the host cleans the edge of the tea bowl for the last time and introduces it to the main guest. Shokyaku goes forward and drinks tea. Only main guests can comment on the quality of the tea. After the tea is finished, the bowl is cleaned with warm water and then the host prepares and serves the tea to the other guests.
At the end, the host kneels down and thanks the guests for attending the tea party.
Japanese tea etiquette
- You must be present at the ceremony on time.
- You should not use spicy perfumes in this ceremony, because it distracts others.
- It is better to wear a kimono for the ceremony. If a kimono is not available, wear clean, casual clothing and discard jewelry that may damage the tea service.
- When entering the teahouse, take off your shoes and turn off your cell phone.
- Everyone should be quiet when making tea, but at the end of the ceremony the guests compliment the beautiful dishes and flowers of the room.
- At this ceremony, you should not talk about personal issues, but you should talk about tea ceremonies, seasonal changes and weather.
History of tea ceremonies in Japan
The Japanese tea ceremony is a thousand years old. Japanese monks first brought tea leaves from China to Japan during the Tang Dynasty and the Japanese Nara period. At first, these green leaves were used only in their temples for religious ceremonies.
Later, a priest named Myona Eisai used green tea to cure diseases and improve health. At that time, tea was more of a medicine and only the rulers and the rich could make it. After that, Zen monks used green tea to keep them alive. Japanese samurai were also fans of this drink.
In later times, a Japanese monk named Murata Shoko made powdered tea and invented tea ceremonies. Shoko is actually the father of Japanese tea ceremonies.
Another person who played an important role in founding the tea ceremony in its present form is Senno Riccio. He lived in the late 1500s and taught warriors various techniques. Many historians consider Reiki to be the founder of the tea festival. He developed four principles for tea ceremony:
- Harmony and integrity;
Reiki is also the inventor of the Japanese Wabi Sabi style. He believed that the meaning of the tea ceremony was to be present in the moment and to understand that it happens only once in a moment. This is one of the most important issues in Wabi Sabi and it is also called Ichi-Go Ichi-Yeh. The term means “every moment happens only once” or “cherish every moment”.
The most famous Japanese teahouses
The most famous Japanese teahouse is KYOTO MAIKOYA. The teahouse is located in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. In these teahouses, visitors can attend English and Japanese tea introductory sessions every day from 9 am to 7 pm.
Taiwan is another Japanese teahouse. This old teahouse was built by San Rico. The Ichiriki Tea House is also the place where the samurai used to gather to overthrow the Shogun government.
Your host must have invited you to attend the Japanese tea ceremony. Tea shops like Ippodo or cafes like Hamarikyu Gardens are not traditional tea houses.
Japanese tea ceremonies are held in different seasons and occasions. In China, of course, this ceremony is held during weddings.
Tea ceremonies are held in Japan to celebrate various occasions, including:
- Cherry blossom trees;
- Autumn leaves;
- Tea harvest season;
- the beginning of new year.
Japanese tea is not celebrated every day and most people brew tea leaves instead of ground maca. Most Japanese homes do not have tea rooms, which is why tea ceremonies are usually held in special schools or Buddhist temples.
The traditional tea ceremony is one of the most important Japanese customs. It may seem simple at first, but the hosts of this traditional ritual have been practicing for years to get the most out of the ceremony.
Today, many tourists travel to Japan to witness this traditional ceremony up close. This ritual is a kind of meditation that has many fans in Japan and around the world.