What do you imagine when you think about the Japanese tea ceremony? For those who are unfamiliar with it, the manner and movements may seem difficult. It is true that the tea ceremony has many rules of etiquette. However, as the name implies, the tea ceremony is one in which guests are meant to enjoy the tea that their hosts make. The mutual consideration between the host and the guest creates a warm and heartfelt connection.
Here, we will outline the flow of a tea ceremony by explaining how hosts should prepare tea and how guests should enjoy it.
Matcha, or green tea powder, is used during a tea ceremony instead of tea leaves. Matcha is made by steaming, drying, and grinding up tea leaves. Regular green tea leaves are grown under the sun’s rays, but the gorgeous green of matcha is drawn out by shading the leaves from the sun.
By the way, black tea and green tea leaves are harvested from the same type of tree. Green tea is made by steaming young leaves to preserve their emerald hue. Black tea is made by oxidizing and drying young leaves.
About the Utensils
Now, we will introduce the tools needed for the tea ceremony. Understanding the care needed to treat the utensils during the tea ceremony is important. Handle them with a calm heart.
Rinse Water receptacle
Iron tea kettle
In addition, the tea room is also equipped with a pot, ladle, and folding screen. Though they are not a “utensil,” sweets are also usually served during a tea ceremony. The sweets are placed atop a special paper called “kaishi.”
Procedure : How to Prepare the Tea
In Japanese, the way to prepare tea is called the “temae.” In Japanese performing arts, pre-determined forms are important. The “temae” could be considered a form like in the martial arts.
1) First, pour hot water into the bowl. Then, rinse and warm the whisk. After making sure it has no splinters, soften the bristles of the whisk by hot water.
2) Discard the water that was used in Step 1 into the Rinse Water receptacle.
3) Next, put two spoonfuls of matcha into the bowl with the tea scoop.
4) Pour in 50 ml of hot water that is 80℃.
5) Whisk the mixture to produce foam. You should whisk in the shape of an “M” and “W.” The bubbles make the tea smoother and taste milder.
6) Once enough foam has formed, the tea is ready. Place the whisk gently in the tea bowl, scrape the sides once, and rest it there.
Guest’s Part : How to Drink the Tea
The guests drink matcha tea in the proper manner. This is one of a form of communication.
1) Bow to the host and convey your gratitude to them by saying, “Otemae choudai itashimasu,” or “Thank you for the tea you have prepared.”
2) Pick up the bowl with your right hand and place it upon your left hand.
3) Show your gratitude by bowing your head slightly.
4) Turn the bowl twice until its front is off-center to you. (The host should place the bowl with its front facing the guest. In many instances, there are patterns and designs on it.)
5) Drink the tea. Ideally, you should finish the tea in 3 to 4 sips. Slurp the last mouthful. The sound of the slurping will convey how delicious the tea was.
6) After finishing the tea, use your right thumb and forefinger to wipe the rim of the bowl where your mouth touched.
7) Turn the bowl twice until its front is facing you.
8) Place it down gently and say to the host, “Kekkou na otemae deshita,” or “It was very delicious.”
This is how hosts prepare tea and guests enjoy it in a tea ceremony. While you are in Japan, please try to experience one! We believe that drinking tea from this quiet exchange is a once in a lifetime experience. We would be happy if you could enjoy this piece of Japanese culture.
By Emi Sotome
Translated by Rafael Olivares