Thursday, November 27, 2014

To Advance Your Tea Ceremony

Next phase

The three important elements for tea ceremony are space, utensils and manners. I have introduced them before ( I would like to introduce one more thing to add in the utensils and the manners. It is going to enrich and advance your tea ceremony and take your tea ceremony to the next phase.

What is special about a tea ceremony?

What is the difference between just making tea and serving tea in a ceremony? You might have noticed it when you watch my previous videos. The five things that the host does during the ceremony are; 1. Bring the implements into the room, 2. Purify the implements, 3. Make the tea, 4. Clean and put the utensils together, 5. Leave the room with implements. Probably, you have no trouble bringing the implements into the room or making tea, but it might be difficult for you to imagine how and why you purify the implements. I think that it is one of the special things about tea ceremony and it makes a difference from just making tea.

Purifying implements

Before the ceremony begins, the implements are all cleaned. However, we dare clean them in front of the guests during the ceremony. We wipe the tea container and tea scoop with a piece of cloth. It is a 27cm (11in) silk, called fukusa. We rinse the tea whisk with hot water in the tea bowl. These steps make the tea which is going to be served special. Some people say that the host even purify his mind as well as he does it.

Just try it

If you want to serve tea with utmost hospitality for your guests, try to purify the utensils before making tea. If you don’t have fukusa, it’ll be okay to use any kind of cloth as far as it’s clean. As I mentioned before, you don’t have to worry about the detailed gestures. Just imitate how others do. What counts is your hospitality. Fold fukusa nicely and gently wipe the items. You guests will definitely notice and appreciate your solicitous consideration in preparing tea. It makes your tea so special and blessed. Purifying items will advance your tea ceremony. 

Fukusa is available on our shop >>>

This is the video I’ve mentioned. You can see purifying the tea container and scoop at 0:57.

If you want to do it properly, refer the following videos.
- Procedure of Tea Ceremony
- How to fold FUKUSA silk cloth
- How to purify NATSUME tea caddy
- How to purify CHASHAKU tea scoop


  1. I found your procedure mesmerizing and calming. Perhaps you know why certain movements are performed, like raising the bamboo whisk from the warm water when preparing to use it. If so, please explain what it does or if it is purely ceremonial and respectful. Also, would a female practitioner make the same gesture?
    Also,as it is like a performance, how do you stay calm, focused and not self conscious while preparing the tea?
    I hope these questions don't seem seems these gestures are at the heart of the ceremony.

    Thanks, Lin

    1. Hi, Lin-san, Thanks for leaving your comment!
      When you purify the whisk, rotating and raising it are for checking if there are any broken tines. If there is one which is almost breaking apart. It could break off when you brew matcha, and it will be dangerous if your guest drinks the tea with broken tine in it. In our Omotesenke, women do the same gesture for purifying the whisk.
      To stay calm and focused, I think that practice is important. If you don’t have enough practice, you will be nerves. You might have to think what to do next always during your performance, and your eyes might dart about. It is away from being calm. Practice creates confidence. With the confidence, your mind can stay calm and you can focus on what you are doing at the moment. I think that it is important to practice the same temae (procedure) over and over until your body can moves spontaneously.

    2. Hi back Kohei-san,
      That is so interesting, I never thought that was the reason! I will have to check my whisk that way too. You also made a long dent in the dry matcha and I am curious about the reason for that. This is also something I never saw before and I liked to see the smooth contrast within the powdery. matcha. Does this have something to do with the way the matcha accepts the matcha?
      Yes, I thought practicing the same temae over and over would help you stay focused and confident in your tea making. I looked up temae in the dictionary...thank you for the new word!
      I only knew tatemae which is different. Temae is specific to the tea ceremony. 

      Again, thank you for explaining.

    3. I’m impressed that you notice such detailed gestures. I think that is an important quality to enjoy the tea ceremony.

      Basically, you are right. I broke the heap of powder. It helps matcha to blend easily with water. I was not intended to make a ditch on the powder, though. I was just trying to break the heap. If the powder is in the shape of heap, there might be more chance of developing lumps in the brewed tea.

      I came up with another tip to stay calm. It’s your posture. When I concentrate on things during my performance, my vision will get narrow, I will hunch over, and my gestures will get petty. But, just by trying to sit straight, I can behave in a relaxed manner. I can have wide vison and move gracefully. During my temae, I always try to have my back straight, chin down and shoulders back. It helps to have a calm state of mind

  2. I meant the way the matcha accepts the water...sorry for the typo.

  3. Yes, your posture has been very important in the videos and does ..somehow..relay the calmness of the temae. It is the first thing I noticed as well as the slower pace of all your movements. I have learned so much.
    I will adopt the movement in the dry matcha powder. I am actually glad there is a reason for everything and not just idle ceremony. Thank you!

  4. Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field. Brilliant .i love it reading.
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