Japanese Tea Ceremony – Way of Tea
Japanese Tea Ceremony, cultural activity involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of Matcha (powdered green tea). The ceremony is also called as ‘Way of Tea’. Radisson Blue at Bangalore, recently hosted Japanese Tea ceremony for select guests. Elaborate process involved in making the tea and serving it to the guests that Japanese follow very meticulously. The entire experience gives a calming and enriching experience.
The ceremony was conducted by Riemasala Pvt Ltd (Masala Tours), a firm that established 11 years back to serve Japanese Travelers and expats coming to India for both business & leisure. They opened the Japan Travel Cafe Azuki as one stop window through which one can get as many different glimpses of Japan as possible.
Tea Ceremony at Radisson
Ms.Yoshida Teruyo (Exec Director) prepared the special Matcha (Japanese Premium Green Tea).
Ms Nomura Yoki (Chief Exec Director of Yoshida Corporation) shared insight into the tradition, process, utensil & significance.
Sweets were served before serving the tea. And then the tea was served in the special glasses that needs to be held with both the hands.
The host initially brought the sweet in a plate. Before serving, both host & guests exchange bows.
After finishing the sweets & tea, plates & cup needs to be kept in front. The host then comes across and takes back the items after bowing to the guests.
During the entire ceremony, the guests would sit and not get up from their seats. This discipline followed by all, make it very interesting.
Little Known Facts
There are some wonderful facts about the Japanese Tea Ceremony that is not known to many. Let me share the details about the same.
- The earliest tea ceremony came to Japan in the 6th century as a significant part of Buddhist meditation. The first documented tea in Japan dates to a Buddhist monk, EICHU, as he arrived from China in the 9th century. Eichu was believed to have served green tea personally tea to Emperor Saga in 819 while on an excursion in Karasaki.
- At the end of the 12th century, another Buddhist monk named EISAI introduced TENCHA (tea preparation) to Japan. He brought with him seeds that yielded high quality tealeaves, later tea became a status symbol of the warrior class.
- The Japanese tea ceremony called CHANOYU, SADO or OCHA in Japanese. It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called MATCHA together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea.
- Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart.
- The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture. Placement of the tea utensils, done from main guest viewpoint (angle). The main guests called the SHOKYAKU ( 正客 ).
- SADO (茶道) or CHANOYU(茶の湯) – Name given to ceremony in Japanese culture.
- OTEMAE – Way in which the event’s performed. The tea ceremony influenced by the principles of Zen Buddhism.
- Tea gatherings are classified as CHAJI (茶事) or CHAKAI (茶会). Chakai is a simple hospitality event that includes thin tea, confections, and a light meal. Chaji is a formal gathering that includes a full course KAISEKI meal followed by confections, thick tea, and then thin tea.
- CHAJI ceremonial gathering lasts for at least four hours.
Shakuhachi, traditional flute recital with the special bamboo sticks. Used by the monks of the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism in the practice of suizen (blowing meditation). We have only heard of the music in few of the movies ‘Crouching Triger Hidden Dragon’ but never heard it live. It was great to see Mr.Kees Kort, an professional trained performer, playing the flute during the Tea Ceremony.
This was one of the best event I have attended in the recent times. I would urge anyone getting a chance to be part of such a ceremony to never miss it. The ceremony refreshes both body and mind at the same time. Taste of tea rejuvenated me, and I felt a lot better. Process followed in the ceremony look long, tedious but at the same time very enjoyable.