What is the Japanese Tea Ceremony?
Known as Chanoyu, Chado or Sado, the Japanese Tea Ceremony is an artistic and cultural pastime. In about 14th century, the nobility in Japanese society heralded the practice at social gatherings to drink Matcha tea. Taking place in a Shoin (study room), the tea ceremony was not just about enjoying tea with friends. The meaning of the ceremony was to appreciate fine art and crafts in a tranquil atmosphere.
What you need to know:
In Japan, tea is an artform. It is considered to have the power to move you towards spiritual discipline.
The feel of the Chawan (tea bowl) in the hand, the company of your contemporaries, and the serene surroundings of the minimalist venue induce a state of calmness. The Japanese Tea Ceremony encourages your attention on simplicity, and appreciation of the moment, the now.
Step 1: Your (The Host’s) Preparation
Your preparation for the tea ceremony begins weeks prior to the date of the ceremony.
On the day of the ceremony:
Step 2: Your Guests’ Preparation
In Japanese tea ceremony, the guests need to prepare too. They need to spiritually prepare themselves before taking part in the Chanoyu.
The guests have to leave behind all the material thoughts and concerns and focus on absolving their hearts of all the negativity of life.
Before setting foot in the Shoin where the tea ceremony will take place, they have to wait for the host’s announcement.
They need to wash their hands to symbolically remove all the dirt and dust of the outside world.
After the host announces that he or she is ready to receive them, the guests have to enter through a small door which makes them bow to the host as a sign of respect.
Step 3: Cleaning The Tools
Now that everyone has settled down, the ceremony needs to start. It starts with cleaning of the matcha teaware involved. You have to clean the utensils in front of your guests. After the tools have been perfectly cleaned, they need to be aesthetically set.
The cleaning and setting of the tools need to be done in a graceful way so that the procedure is aesthetically pleasing to look upon.
It’s extremely important that you sit in a graceful posture throughout. No unnecessary movements or conversations are allowed in the ceremony and everything from cleaning to how the guests are treated has to be in harmony. So be sure to maintain that.
Step 4: Preparing The Matcha Green Tea
After the tools have been set, it’s now time to prepare the Matcha tea. We have detailed out all the steps of preparing Matcha here.
What you have to do is add three scoops of Matcha in the bowl, followed a small amount of hot water. Whisk the water and Matcha together to make a thin paste and add more hot water to the bowl to make the tea. Then, serve it to the guests.
Step 5: Serving The Matcha Green Tea
As with everything in the tea ceremony, there’s an etiquette for serving the Matcha as well. You have to present the bowl of prepared Matcha to the main guest. The guest will admire the bowl and then rotate it before drinking the tea.
After drinking it, the main guest wipes the rim of the bowl and offers it to the next guest who repeats the process. The process will be repeated until the last guest has drunk tea and passed the bowl back to you.
Step 6: Final Stage of the Ceremony
After all the guests have enjoyed the tea, it’s time to clean the bowl. Cleaning the bowl is always the host’s job. The host will clean and rinse the teaware; the bowl, the ladle and the whisk.
The guests then have to inspect the teaware items as a sign of respect for you (the host). They carefully examine all the tools using a soft cloth to make sure those are handled with caution.
After examining the tools, the guests hand them back to you. Now you have to gather the tools and put them back in place. It’s time for the guests to leave. They would bow one more time as a sign of respect to you before leaving.
The ceremony is complete.
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