Thursday, January 9, 2014

Guest Post: The Peculiarities of the Japanese Tea Ceremony

Today I am excited to share a guest post from Paul Smith. He is a writer who is interested in the Japanese tea ceremony.

What do we know about “The Land of Rising Sun”? I am sure that just those people, whose life is somehow connected with this country or whose, who are extremely interested in its culture, traditions, architecture and, of course, economy, have extensive knowledge about Japan. Most people know just a few facts about this country, such as: this is an island nation; this is the country of samurai; machine building is extremely developed in Japan and a few others.

I’d like to improve your knowledge about this beautiful and interesting country and tell you about Japanese tea ceremony or the Way of Tea. This ceremony is also called ChanoyuSado or Ocha in Japanese. There are two types of tea gatherings in Japan: chakai and chaji.

Chakai is relatively simple course of hospitability that includes sweets, thin tea and a light meal. This ceremony is comparatively short: it can take from 20 minutes to an hour.

Chaji is a formal tea ceremony, which usually consist of full-course kaiseki meal (traditional multi-course Japanese dinner), an intermission in the garden and then a solemn thick tea ceremony with sweets, which is followed by the less solemn thin Japanese tea ceremony. Chaji can last up to four or even five hours.

Chanoyu is an artistic pastime unique to Japan that feature the serving and drinking of Matcha, a powdered Japanese green-tea. Green tea was introduced to Japan from China in the 8th century, but Matcha powdered green-tea did not come into use there until the end of the 12th century. At the very beginning the practice of holding a social gathering in order to drink Matcha was popular only among upper classes. Such tradition was extremely popular among rich people during the 14th century.

For Japanese tea ceremony we will need the following things: tea bowl (there are four different bowls for each season of the year), tea scoop or chashaku (the tool with the help of which you will take tea from tea caddy put put it into the tea bowl), whisk or chasen, Wagashis (sweets) for chakai and kaiseki meal for chaji. The Japanese tea ceremony consists of the following steps:
  • clean the serving bowl;
  • boil a pot of water;
  • serve a sweet treat to guests before the tea (sweet should balance the bitter taste of the Matcha tea);
  • mix Matcha with water. There are two main ways of preparing matcha for tea ceremony: thick (koicha) and thin (usucha), for this tea we use the best quality tea leaves. In order to prepare usucha we whipped matcha and hot water with the help of tea whisk (chasen), while koicha is kneaded with the whisk to smoothly blend the large amount of powdered tea with the water
  • serve the tea to guests.
So now we know the main steps of Tea ceremony and it’s time to speak about some behavior peculiarities during Chanoyu. Here they are:
  1. Bow when you receive the cup of tea which is called a chawan.
  2. Take the chawan with your right hand and place it in the palm of your left hand.
  3. Turn the chawan clockwise three times before you take a drink.
  4. When the tea is gone, make a loud slurp to tell to the host that the tea was truly enjoyed.
  5. Wipe the part of the chawan your lips touched with your right hand.
  6. Turn the chawan counterclockwise and return it to the host.
Now you knew a little about the steps and peculiarities of Japanese tea ceremony. It is not as simply as it looks. In order to learn Chanoyu many people take classes or join clubs at dedicated tea schools, colleges or universities. Even if you do this, it still will take years of practice to master the art of Japanese tea ceremony. 

Keep in mind that the traditional Japanese tea ceremony is more than just drinking tea; it is a spiritual experience that embodies harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.


About the author: Paul Smith is very interested in other cultures and history. He works as a writer of custom written essays and composes the guest posts for various blogs. Feel free to contact him at Google+.

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