CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From Japan

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony

CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From Japan

A traditional Japanese tea ceremony is a beautiful rendition of culture and ancient traditions from Japan.

A visual art performance in itself, a Japanese tea ceremony is known as chanoyu or sado, that literally means “hot water for tea”. Steeped back into the 8th century, the ceremonial way of preparing and drinking green tea is usually held in a traditional tatami tearoom. The entrance is often kept low so that entering guests have to bend over, symbolizing humility. With a distinctive technique from the tea equipment to the preparation and to the drinking of the tea, the ceremony itself is a place to wind down. It is a ritual of intention and quiet reflection where the aromatic flavors of green tea linger in the air. CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From Japan

The history of a Tea ceremony

Tea is an important part of Japanese food culture and easily the most popular drink consumed. Various types of tea are drunk throughout the day, where green tea is the most common type of tea. Green tea is also the prime element of the tea ceremony. In a ceremony, ground green leaves (called matcha) are used that are vibrant in color, as the leaves are not roasted or fermented. Stone grinders turn the fresh matcha leaves into powdered tea. Green tea is drunk in different consistencies from thick (koicha) to thin (usucha) blends. Lastly, high grade tea is easier to notice when the tea is thick.  

The drinking of tea in Japan has shaped throughout the years from being a medicinal beverage to the upper class to slowly transforming into a spiritual ceremony. Moreover, the ritual of tea drinking originated from China, which was first practiced during the Kamakura period (1192-1333) by monks, who drank tea to keep awake after long meditation sessions. It later varied into a ritual honoring the first patriarch, Bodhidharma. Over the years, the purpose of a tea ceremony has become a state of mind really, it represents harmony, respect, purity and tranquility which must be embraced during the service. Tea was introduced from China into Japan as a medicinal beverage primarily amongst priests and the upper class. It was only during the Muromachi Period (1333-1573) when the beverage gained popularity amongst people of all classes. The more affluent members of society began to have tea drinking gatherings, where members would show off their beautiful tea bowls and share knowledge about tea. Later, more refined versions of tea parties developed with zen-inspired simplicity and a larger emphasis on spirituality. These gatherings have rooted origins for tea ceremonies.CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From JapanChakai are informal gatherings held to appreciate the ritualized serving of tea, while the more formal occasion is a chaji.The purpose for guests is to enjoy the hospitality of the host, in an atmosphere that allows time to stand still, much needed from a Japanese fast pace everyday life. Today, a tea ceremony has transformed much into a hobby and there are places where tourists can experience this as well. There are ceremonies of different degrees of authenticity across Japan that are organized in traditional gardens, cultural centers and hotels. It is said that Kyoto and Uji are great destinations to experience Japan’s tea culture. CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From JapanA traditional tea ceremony is particularly important during hanami (literally means ‘to view flowers’), when the cherry blossoms begin to take life. During spring time, the cherry blossoms are in bloom in Japan and this is when ‘Sakura’ is celebrated to signify the welcoming of Spring. This tradition dates back over a thousand years and it is particularly special because a cherry blossom blooms for a short period of time. CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From JapanIt is a celebration of the beauty of nature throughout Japan that gathers people together for a special occasion. Traditionally, along with other performance arts, a calming tea ceremony is held underneath the sky of pink blooms to celebrate cultural beauty.  

Tea ceremony protocol, preparation & how to drink the tea

A full tea ceremony can last many hours, where the event starts with a kaiseki course meal (traditional Japanese multi-course cuisine), that is followed by a thick tea and ends with a thin tea. The preparation of matcha powdered green tea is called otemae. A ceremony has specific protocols, such as hand movements and serving techniques that makes the ceremony flawless. The dress code includes respectable modest attire with removed jewelry to avoid damaging tea bowls along with no strong perfumes that distract the tea experience.CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From JapanGenerally, the host prepares the tea in front of the guests. The equipment includes the tea whisk, tea container for the powdered green tea, tea scoop, tea bowls, a kettle and brazier. Each equipment is specifically selected to its place and circumstances. Once all the tea is prepared, a Japanese sweet (called wagashi) made from Sweet azuki bean paste is served before the tea is drunk. Then the tea bowl is placed onto the tatami mat in front of you at a certain angle. The tea is then picked up with your right hand and placed into your left palm. The bowl is then turned clockwise by 90 degrees so that the front is facing the other direction. Take a few sips of the tea and place it back onto the tatami. Always after receiving and finishing a tea, gratitude is shown by bowing to the host. Towards the end of the ceremony, the guests inspect and appreciate the tea bowl by lifting it. Once finished. The bowl is turned a specific way so that it is facing the host. CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From JapanA traditional tea ceremony in Japan is set in a culture that has shaped throughout the history of time. It is more than just about drinking tea; it is the entire performance from begin to end and the symbolic gestures in between. A tea ceremony allows you to step away from the fast pace of everyday life, to enjoy simplicity. CulturallyOurs Traditional Tea Ceremony From JapanIn a culture with strong and dominant tastes, tea provides an opportunity to enjoy more subtle flavors. Well-rounded with gracious hospitality, the ceremony builds from a philosophy of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. It is evident that green tea is a prominent part of culture in Japan with well rooted deep origins.

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