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“Way of Tea” The Japanese Tea Ceremony

Image via Japanese-tea-ceremony.net

Harmony (wa) – Respect (kae) – Purity (sae) – Tranquility (jubuo)

These four words are the essential principles of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (or Chanoyu, meaning “hot water for tea”) –  words to live by. In Japanese culture, the tea ceremony is an elaborate event, dating back more than 1000 years, when tea leaves were brought from China to Japan by Buddhist priests, who incorporated the tea ceremony into daily religious life. Later the ceremony became a social occasion focused on aesthetics, spanning a spectrum of Japanese culture –attire, ceramics, décor, floral design, cuisine and even the delicate sculpting of ashes in the fireplace! The Japanese tea ceremony became an art form, taken so seriously that each participant – whether the host (teishu), the host’s assistant (the hanto), or the guests – is required to perform the ritual according to specific guidelines:

Image via Asia-art.net

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony Procedure

The Host:

  1. Clean the serving bowls.
  2. Boil a pot of water.
  3. Serve a sweet treat before the tea – combination of the sweet and bitter (tea) flavors symbolizes Harmony.
  4. Mix powdered bitter green tea (Matcha) and water, then serve the tea to guests

The Guest:

  1. Bow when you receive the bowl of tea (chawan)
  2. Take the chawan with your right hand and place in palm of your left hand.
  3. Turn the chawan clockwise, three times, before taking a sip.
  4. When drinking your tea, slurp loudly – this lets the host know that you enjoyed the tea.
  5. With your right hand, wipe the the chawan where your lips touched.
  6. Turn the chawan counterclockwise, once, and return it to the host.

Bigelow Tea knows that tea is a wonderful ritual to be enjoyed in good company and in peaceful solitude, like our Japanese friends! (Cheers!)

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