While sipping through my warm cup of tea, I can recall the history of Japanese tea. And it made me curious as to what are the steps of Japanese tea ceremony? Why is it held so highly by the Japanese?
For a country with such a rich culture like Japan, most traditions are founded in history and significance. And we can say the same when it comes to their Japanese tea ceremony. There is an art and spirituality behind tea drinking in Japan. And because of the cultural and political implications of the ceremony, tea drinking in Japan is not the simple, morning tea drinking as we know it.
Tea drinking is like enjoying an art exhibit for the elites. It’s peaceful, artistic and deep.
So sit back, take a sip and enjoy the delicious warmth of your Japanese green tea as you read on more about how a Japanese tea drinking ceremony is done.
Steps of Japanese Tea Ceremony
On our previous article about the History of Japanese tea, we learned that tea drinking ceremonies were practiced mostly by religious people and people with noble blood. It sets a status symbol due even to political ranks in the feudal army in Japan those days.
So what really makes tea drinking in Japan different? How is it done and what are the symbols and significance in the steps?
Before you proceed further, we have to know some important points about their tea drinking ceremony.
• The tea drinking should be headed by a tea master
• Tea drinking may vary depending on the season, school, time of day and some other factors.
• Tea drinking can be done both indoors and outdoors, as the host sees fit.
Now, let’s proceed to the steps that they follow, accordingly, as they do their tea drinking ceremony:
Step 1: Host’s preparation
As the host prepares for the ceremony, one of the first thing he/she has to do is to send out invitations to the people he/she would want to come to the tea drinking. This sets the whole thing into action.
Prior to the actual ceremony, the host has a lot of things to do behind the scenes to prepare for such a ritualistic and traditional ceremony.
Some of this includes:
• Choosing the right tools to use according to the season.
• Cleaning the house, especially the area where the ceremony will take place. This is significant to the ceremony as they would want it to be pure and clean.
• Learning the tea ceremony etiquette.
• Focus on obtaining harmony and balance in his/her soul before the day.
Step 2: The Guests’ preparation
You would think that only the host has to prepare for the ceremony, but no. The guests also have their own preparations to do. One of them is spiritual preparation. They have to forget about the material things and purify themselves before the actual ceremony.
Step 3: The Ceremony Begins
Now that the host and guests are all prepared, it’s now time to conduct the ceremony.
The Japanese tea ceremony starts with the host opening the door. The host will announce once she’s ready to receive the guests. When they hear the host’s signal, the guests will have to wash their hands as a symbol of cleansing from the “dust” of this world.
Then they will proceed to the door, which would be purposefully small, so that the guests will have to bow down when they come in, as a sign of respect to the host.
As they come into the room, the sweets prepared by the guests are presented, depending on the season and time of the day.
Step 4: Cleaning of the Tools
The start of the tea drinking ceremony does not officially unless the host brings out the tools to use during the ceremony.
The host will then clean the tools one by one, in front of the guests, in serene and graceful movements. The guests will have to be in harmony with the host here, so no unnecessary movements or words are done or spoken.
Step 5: Preparing the Tea
Once the cleaning of the tools is completed, the host will then display the clean utensils in front of the guests and proceed to the tea preparation.
Basically, here are the tools needed in the tea ceremony:
- Cold water container
- Small stove
- Tea bowl
- Tea whisker
- Tea container
- Kettle with Lid
Once these tools are prepared, the host will then prepare the tea in front of the guests. The host will have to be in a peaceful, calm and balanced state of mind as he/she prepares the tea for the guests. It is believed that this is key to making the best tea. We will make a separate article with more details about how to prepare the Japanese Matcha or green tea.
When the tea is ready, the host will pass on the tea bowl to the main guest. The guest will admire and rotate the bowl before drinking from it. And when he’s done, he will wipe the rim of the bowl and present it to the next guest. This goes on until the next guest consumes the tea and pass the bowl back to the host.
Step 6: Finishing the Tea Ceremony
The last step of Japanese tea ceremony is cleaning the tools.
First, the host will clean and wipe the bowl and the teaware. Then, as a sign of respect to the host, the guests will then inspect each of the teaware to make sure that they are handled with care and that they are in perfect condition.
After which, the guests will hand back the tools to the host and the host will gather them together and put them away. When this is done, the guest can then bow down and leave. The ceremony is finished.
A lot of coffee shops nowadays are serving Matcha tea but not a lot of us knows how significant the tea drinking ceremony is for Japanese people.
And now that we know the steps of Japanese tea ceremony and the significance in each step, we can appreciate drinking tea even more because of it.
Are you excited to learn more about Japanese tea? We have more articles coming up for you, so sit tight and relax.
Discover our selection of Japanese teas straight from the farm here: