Japanese tea ceremony

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A woman wearing kimono performs a tea ceremony.

The Japanese tea ceremony (called cha-no-yu, chado, or sado) is a special way of making green tea (matcha 抹茶). It is called the Way of Tea. It is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered tea. People who study the tea ceremony have to learn about different kinds of tea. They also have to learn about kimono (Japanese clothes), flowers, and many other things. It takes much practice to learn the tea ceremony.

History[change | change source]

Tea came to Japan from China in about 900 CE. Tea became very popular in Japan, and Japanese people started to grow tea in Japan.

In the 12th century, matcha (green tea powder), became popular. This tea comes from the same plant as black tea.

By the 16th century, all people in Japan, rich people and poor people, liked drinking tea. A man called Sen no Rikyu started teaching the ceremony. Many years have passed, but people still make tea the same way that Sen no Rikyu taught. To tell the truth, there are some schools. Each school (omote-senke, ura-senke, etc.) has told a little different way.

Materials needed[change | change source]

People need many different things for a tea ceremony:

  • Tea bowl (called chawan ). In a tea ceremony, people drink tea out of bowls instead of cups. Some bowls that people use are over 400 years old.
  • Tea scoop (called chashaku ). A scoop is a kind of spoon. Tea scoops are made from bamboo. They are used to put tea into the tea bowl. Large scoops are used to put tea into the tea caddy (see below).
  • Whisk (called chasen ). A whisk is like a brush made from wire. People use it to mix tea. Tea whisks are made from bamboo.
  • Tea caddy (called natsume or cha-ire ). A tea caddy is a special container that people put green tea powder in. There are two kinds of tea caddies: natsume and cha-ire. Natsume are short and have a flat lid and a round bottom. They are made of wood. Sometimes natsume is called cha-ki. Cha-ire are tall and thin, and are made of ceramic. Natsume and cha-ire are used in different ceremonies. Making weak tea (called usu-cha) needs natsume, and making strong tea (called koi-cha) needs cha-ire.
  • Napkin (called fukusa ). A fukusa is a special square cloth made out of silk. It is used to symbolically purify the tea scoop and tea caddy.
  • Ladle (called hishaku ). The kind of ladle used is made of bamboo. There is a cup-like part attached to a long handle.
  • Water jar (called mizusashi ). Hot water in an iron pot is not fully after making tea, so a person who made tea must add water. A mizusashi holds water for it.
  • Waste-water container (called kensui ). When a tea bowl and a whisk are washed before and after making tea, the water used for washing is put in a kensui.
  • Iron pot (called kama ). A kama holds hot water. During tea ceremony, water is kept on boiling with charcoal.
  • Tea (called matcha ). The tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony is pulverized green tea, which is made into a drink during the ceremony by putting some in the tea bowl, adding hot water, and mixing this with the whisk.

Tea ceremony[change | change source]

People do the tea ceremony in a special tea room or a special building called a cha-shitsu. Most people wear kimonos.

When people go into the tea room they take off their shoes and sit on special floor mat called tatami.

Cha-shitsu often are very small. The guests (the people who go to the tea ceremony) sometimes eat food and drink special Japanese wine called sake. Before they drink the matcha (green tea) they eat something sweet.

The host (the person who does the tea ceremony) symbolically purifies the tea bowl and the other tea things. Then he or she puts some green tea powder into the tea bowl. The host mixes the tea with hot water. He mixes it with a whisk. The guests drink tea from the bowl.

When everyone has finished drinking tea, the host cleans everything and puts them away. Then the guests leave.

A tea ceremony can take from about twenty minutes to about four hours.

Related pages[change | change source]

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Other websites[change | change source]

English books about the ceremony[change | change source]

  • Okakura Kakuzo. The Book of Tea. Tokyo, Japan: Tuttle, 1977.
  • Tanaka, S. The Tea Ceremony. New York: Harmony Books, 1977.
  • Morgan Pitelka, ed. Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History, and Practice. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.
  • Sadler, A.L. Cha-No-Yu: The Japanese Tea Ceremony. Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962.
  • Freeman, Michael. New Zen: the tea-ceremony room in modern Japanese architecture. London, 8 Books, 2007