Chanoyu（茶の湯）, Sado（茶道） or simply the Japanese tea ceremony is a ritual which is religiously followed in Japan. Japanese Matcha green tea is served in a series of choreographed steps with the host simply gliding through the whole ceremony. In order to balance the slight bitterness of the tea, traditionally prepared Japanese sweets are also served along with it.
This whole process is more than just about making tea. It is an aesthetic compilation of certain predefined movements co-ordinated in a way that each action comes straight from the soul. Every movement and every gesture made by the host is done in consideration of the guest's comfort. From the placement of required utensils the point of view of the main guest or the Shokyaku (正客) is always considered.
Tea Ceremony is so deep, and there are so many different "ryuha" or divisions which have different approaches.
But I tried to summarize the simple ceremony in easy simple steps so that you can understand what they are.
A very strict protocol needs to be followed when executing the steps of the Japanese tea ceremony or the “Way of tea”. While these steps along with the myriad of utensils used might seem a bit difficult to understand at first, breaking them into the following 6 steps would enable the reader to gain a certain degree of familiarity with the same.
While there are some variations to the steps involved in the different types of Japanese tea ceremony celebrated, the basic steps remain the same.
Then comes the stage when the tea room or the tea garden, whichever is to be used depending on the season, is cleaned, the utensils washed and kept ready for use to prepare the premium green tea and the Tatami changed.
Lastly, if the tea ceremony is inclusive of a meal, the host starts to prepare for the same from the early hours of the morning.
A tray containing traditional sweets is also presented to the guests along with the tea. In case there is a meal involved, the same is also served to the guests.
The Japanese tea ceremony is a beautiful attempt by the Japanese to hold on to their cultural heritage and even pass it down the generations.
Right from the preparations to the ending with the guests leaving, the whole journey is one which can be taken to be an attempt by the host to build a connection with the guests and also with nature on a spiritual level.
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