It is said that japanese elevated the act of preparing, serving and drinking a tea to art.
The aim of the Japanese tea ceremony is to strenghten the bond between participants. Usually the place where is the tea ceremony done is adjusted for this ritual.
The tea ceremony as it’s known today was developed in the 16th century by budhist monk Ikkyū. He summarized the important to serve hearthfelt hospitality to all guests regardless the status or the rank.
For a tea ceremony is a used powdered green tea called matcha.
Teas are among the oldest varieties of shaded Japanese green teas that have traditionally been used for Zen Buddhist ceremonies for more than 800 years. Matcha – grounded on granite grinding stones to a fine yellow-green powder – splashes with water to create a drink with a rich flavor and aroma.
According to Japanese literature tea was in 3rd century used as an elixir to treat fever and symptoms of a cold. In a time of Samurais the tea ceremony was created to help samurais to bring harmony and peace to their stormy life.
Today isn’t matcha only used for a tea ceremony and especially in Japan it is common and favourite flavour. You can find ice cream, sweets, desserts, drinks, coffee, chocolates and more with the matcha flavour in it.
Matcha is made from shade-grown leaves. From the same tea leaves as Gyokuro is made (gyokuro type of green tea). The preparation starts before the leaves are harvested, before the annual harvest usually (20-28 days before) is the leaves covered to prevent the from the direct sunlight by doing this it’s slowing down the growth, and the plant increase in chlorophyll levels, and turns the leaves to darker shade of green. After harvesting, we can make out of them gyokuro by rolling them before drying or we can make matcha whcih is laid down flat to dry and dried leaves are storaged in a fridge/cold surrodings, as it’s the tea in this stage now it’s called tencha. Then is the tencha dtone-ground to the fine bright green powder. Grinding the leaves is a slow process, because the mill stones mustn’t get warm. It takes one hour to gring 30grams of matcha.
- Ceremonial matcha:~$100–140 for 100gm the highest quality of matcha
- Premium grade:~$50–80 for 100gm
- Cooking/culinary grade:~$15–40 for 100g
Tea ceremony is not just about enjoying the team the most important aspect is the spirit in which host welcomes his quests. Preparations must be perfect of the layout of the tea garden to the tea room itself also the choice of the tea and decorations, arrangements and the food served with the tea is all what must be perfect and without a mistake to perform the best ceremony.
Through the whole year in Japanese calendar are many tea ceremony gatherings held to remind the aspect of the changing seasons. Hatsugama is held at the start of the year to celebrate New Year, team masters and students are all invited to participate.In early spring when the cherry trees are in blossom the ceremony takes place at the Kitano Tenamngu shrine in Kyoto. This ceremony is done the same way as in the past days to remind the ancient tea ceremony. As a part of this event the tea prepared by Geishas is offered to visitors. The full moon in autumn is considered the beautiful Moon of all and in that time is the tea ceremony with traditional music held again. Also, there are special ceremonies which can take you back to the 13th century by its unique style where visitors drink from the 5kg bowl.
Visitors partcipating in the traditional tea ceremony must went through the tea garden where they can stop by and enjoy the view. The garden should have only a few colourful flowers. In a garden guests can also find Tsukubai (stone bowl filled with water) and the guests wash their hands and rinsing the mouth as a symbolic purification. Traditinal tea house have a narrow entrance called Nijiriguchi. And Tokonoma a place for a decorative scroll and for ikebana flower.
The implements used for serving the tea are an important element in the ceremony. Most tea gatherings have a theam and the implements are usually are chosen to the acording theme. Before the serving the tea some sweet confection is offered to the guests, often reminding of the seasons or the gathering theme.
The tea is prepared with elegance and with a minimal of movements. Matcha is taken from the tea caddy by using a bamboo scoop. The amount of matcha is carefully measured so every guest have equal. Whe water which was heated in the kettle (big reminding more of a pot) is then poured over the tea powder in the bowl. Then is the matcha powder and hot water mixed by using a bamboo by using a bamboo tea whisk. The bouwl with the tea is then passed from one guest to the next. After receiving the bowl you must turn it little to the side to don’t drink from the same spot after drinking each guest wipe the bowl for the next guests.
- Tea Bowl (chawan)
- Tea whisk (chasen)
- Tea spoon/scoop (chashaku)
- Tea caddy(natsume)
- Tea cloth (chakin)
Tea ceremony was in past days learning how to make the proper tea ceremony was essential part of an education of young laides.
Tyotomi Hideyoshi held tea ceremony to show his authority by having the whole tea room made of a gold. Also he invited over 800 people in all visited Hideyoshi’s tea gathering.
Also some merchants and samurais held tea ceremony for negotations.
P.S. I am sorry for my longer inactivity, due to internet and health issues.