The Japanese Tea Ceremony
The Chanoyu, AKA The Way of Tea, is a timeless tradition and has been central to Japanese culture since the 1400’s. Complete with its own a code of ethics and morals, this matcha tea ceremony represents a way of life and a state of mind, all revolving around four basic principles: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. If patience is a virtue, the Way of Tea is as virtuous as it gets.
Cha, Cha, Cha
There are two types of Chanoyu: the Chaji and the Chakai.
The Chaji is the most formal of the two and can last up to four hours. It includes a reception, a meal then a short pause, followed by a full tea ceremony. The Chakai is a shorter version that lasts about 30-45 minutes. This condensed ceremony features a light matcha served with sweets.
Step by Step
As mentioned above, there is a specific set of tools required for an authentic Japanese tea ceremony. To set up your Chanoyu, you’ll need a cloth napkin (linen or hemp), a tea bowl, a teaspoon and a tea whisk.
There is also a set of guidelines that must be followed. While each carries specific meaning and actions, the seven Rules of the Tea Ceremony are described as follows:
- Arrange the flowers as they grow in the fields.
- Arrange the charcoal to heat the water.
- In summer, evoke coolness.
- In winter, evoke warmth.
- Take care of everything ahead of time.
- Be prepared for rain.
- Give every one of your guests your full attention.
So how exactly do these steps translate into a cup of matcha? This video does a great job explaining it.
But whether you’re a master or new to to matcha, the most important rule of the tea ceremony is to respect your guests and surroundings. Happy whisking!