The elegant Japanese tea ceremony is steeped in tradition and involves very specific use of ritual and tea service in order to be authentic. For this reason, many people may feel that performing the tea ceremony is out of reach, but this really is not the case.
The main components of the ceremony are rooted in practical preparation and aesthetically pleasing presentation of Japanese Matcha tea. The purpose of the ceremony is to connect with your guests and/or with nature at a very high level of spirituality.
To do this requires attaining a peaceful and harmonious state of mind and performing the rituals of the ceremony in a very mindful way. In this article we will describe the seven steps taken to perform the Japanese “way of tea”. Read on to learn more.
How to do Japanese tea ceremony
#1: Prepare yourself for the ceremony
As the host, you may begin your preparation weeks in advance. Start by sending out formal invitations to your guests and then set your focus on your upcoming celebration. You must prepare your soul by releasing worldly thoughts and replacing them with a sense of equilibrium, peace and harmony.
Focus your attention on the details of the upcoming ceremony by choosing the tools you will use based upon the season of the year and the chosen date. Prepare the garden space or tea room by cleaning, changing out accoutrements as needed and generally making the space peaceful and beautiful to welcome your guests.
#2: Your guests must also prepare
In order to properly attend a Japanese tea, guests must take steps to abandon worldly worries and purify their hearts and minds to fully appreciate the occasion.
When the guests arrive at your home, they must wait for your signal to enter the tea room or garden space where the tea will be served. Before entering, they must wash their hands as a symbol of leaving the “dust of the world” behind them.
Ideally, guests should enter the tea area through a very small door which causes them to bow, showing respect to you and your preparations.
#3: You must clean your tools
Begin preparing the tea by presenting the tools you will use (e.g. your Matcha tea set) and cleaning them before your assembled guests. This must be done with great focus and in an aesthetically pleasing and graceful manner.
There are specific motions that are to be used for specific types of tea ceremonies, but the main thing to remember as the host is that you must display a graceful and dignified posture and demeanor throughout the ceremony. Don’t move about or talk needlessly. Maintain a harmonious, peaceful, reverential attitude.
#4: Prepare the Matcha
When your tools have been cleaned and are nicely displayed, begin preparing the tea. Put three scoops of matcha powder into the bowl for each of your guests. Pour in a small amount of hot water and whisk the powder to form a thin paste. Gradually add the rest of the water while whisking continuously.
#5: Serve your guests
Present the prepared tea to your guest of honour who will admire the bowl, rotate it and take a sip. The first guest will then use a provided, clean napkin to wipe the rim of the bowl and will then present the next guest with the tea as you have just done. The bowl of matcha tea will make the rounds of the guests in this manner until all guests have been served.
#6: Complete the Japanese tea ceremony
When all of your guests have had a sip of tea, clean the tea bowl, whisk and tea scoop in a dignified and graceful manner. Your guests will inspect your cleaned tools as a sign of their respect for you and the effort you have made to serve them. They will carefully lift and look at each item, using a clean cloth to handle the clean implements.
#7: The guests make a graceful exit
When your guests have examined your tea preparation tools, you should gather them up and bid your guests adieu. Your guests should exit the tea area or room, bowing to you as they leave.