What do you need to know about Japanese tea culture?
In one of our previous blogs we talked about tea cultures around the world . We discussed the traditions of several countries. You may have noticed that we didn't cover Japanese tea culture in that publication . This is because it is so deep -rooted and vast that we felt it was only fair to devote an entire separate text to this topic .
Continue reading and discover the unique tea culture in Japan !
How did the history of tea ceremonies begin?
The first records of Japanese tea ceremonies date back to the 8th century . In ancient times, tea was considered primarily a medicine , intended only for monks and people of higher social classes . It was not until the Muromachi period (1336-1573) that tea became available to all levels of society .
What types are ceremonies divided into?
Japanese tea ceremonies are divided into two categories: formal and informal . The formal ceremony is known as Chaji , and the informal one is known as Chakai . Chakai ceremonies usually last less than an hour . However, learning how to conduct a ceremony can take years of practice ! Special guests , such as Senior Tea Masters, are invited to Chaji ceremonies. These formal ceremonies can last from three to four hours . They require time to prepare and are usually held in honor of important occasions , such as celebrating a new era.
The ceremonies take place in such a calm and composed way that all the attention of the guests is focused on the process of preparing tea .
Instead of the common concept of serving and receiving a brew, these ceremonies are intended to demonstrate the host's hospitality towards his guests. It is also a great way to escape the constant worries of fast-paced life and gain inner peace .
What is the tea ceremony procedure like?
The procedure begins with a Kaiseki Ryori meal , which is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, followed by a cup of thick tea , and finally a cup of lighter tea .
What is the dress code?
Nothing flashy or extravagant is worn for such ceremonial events. Instead, simple clothes are preferred, which do not distract from the tea ceremony . Avoid wearing jewelry as it may scratch the tableware and avoid strong scents that may distort the scent of the tea.
Where and in what surroundings do the ceremonies take place?
Japanese tea ceremonies traditionally take place in a room called the "Tami Room" . Typically, the entrance is low , so guests must bow to enter, which is a sign of respect and modesty . Many Tatami rooms are located in areas surrounded by gardens , which provide silence, as ceremonies are usually performed to achieve inner peace . Like the outfit, the garden itself does not include extravagant elements or strong scents , as this can again distract attention. A path of stones leads to the teahouse, each of different shapes and sizes. Another thing you will notice is a stone sink near the entrance , where guests can wash their hands after entering the room.
How is tea prepared?
Since the process of preparing tea is the highlight of the ceremony, the following items are used: a bamboo whisk (Chasen), a container for powdered green tea (Natsume), a teaspoon (Chashaku), a tea bowl, a plate for sweets, a kettle, and a boilermaker. Each equipment has its place because it is carefully selected depending on the type of function it performs.
What does the ceremony look like?
First, wagashi - a traditional Japanese sweet - is served, which should be eaten before drinking the tea . The host will place the cups of infusion on the Tatami mat in such a way that they are not directed directly at the guests . Then, the invitees lift the vessel with their right hand, place it on their left hand and turn it 90 degrees clockwise so that it is not directed towards them . The tea is drunk in a few sips and placed back on the Tatami mat. After placing the cup on the mat, guests express their gratitude by bowing respectfully.
When everyone has finished their tea, the empty vessel is placed facing the host . After all these actions, the host can ask if the invitees are interested in another round . If not, the ceremony ends. The host will wash the used tableware and return it to its original place.
It is worth experiencing the Japanese tea ceremony . It should definitely be on your to-do list ! These rituals showcase some of the traditions of the Japanese that are simply pleasing to the eye . Moreover, nowadays the pace of life is so fast - everything is so rushed - that it is almost impossible to achieve complete peace of mind . This is another reason why such a ceremony from time to time is beneficial to your physical and mental well-being .