Monday, October 25, 2010

What is The Way of Tea, or the Japanese tea ceremony?

Japanese Chanoyu or Sado (Chado) is translated as The Way of Tea. It’s not just about drinking tea. The Way of Tea is a traditional composite art regarding the tea ceremony including the philosophy, mode of behavior, and materialistic elements. The Way of Tea has had huge influences on Japanese cultures.

The tea used for The Way of Tea is called matcha. It is powdered green tea. A teapot is not used to prepare the tea, instead, use a tea bowl and tea whisk; put the matcha into a tea bowl; add hot water; and mix them with a tea whisk. Then people drink it from the bowl.

A tea ceremony is held in a tea room with a host, guests and right utensils. And all the procedures and movements are standardized. It starts from entering to the tea room. Let’s take a look at the basic steps of the tea ceremony.

1. The Guests get into the room
2. The host brings in the utensils into the room
3. The host purifies the utensils
4. The guests have sweets.
5. The host prepares and serves the tea
6. The Guests drink the tea
7. The host clean and put away the utensils
8. The host leaves the room with utensils
9. The guests get out of the room

At our tea lesson, the ceremony for two guests will take about twenty minutes. Some formal tea ceremonies will take a half day, including a meal and a couple of tea.

I think the most important thing in The Way of Tea is the spiritual aspects. The essential is hospitality, or I should say kindness. Thinking of others is important.
The Way of Tea also involves many other spiritual thoughts or lessons.
Such as …
*Coexisting with nature, and blessing of the nature and seasons
*Giving importance to mutual accord and relationship
*Finding beauty in simple, rustic, or imperfect things
And more…
I believe the spiritual aspects have matured tea into The Way of Tea, and you need lifetime training to realize these philosophies.

I think we, Japanese enjoy the tea ceremonies because you can take a break from your daily life, experience the special space and time, and find the peace though the tea (^-^)


  1. Hi Kohei-san,
    I know this is an older posting but I am wondering about koicha...I read often that the thick paste is served during chanoyu but that is all I ever read. Can you tell me about it is used, is it then whisked with more water after a tasting?

    Thank you

    1. We don’t add water after drinking koicha. Koicha is just koicha. Essentially, we prepare and proceed the tea ceremony to enjoy the koicha. And usucha (thin tea) is kind of refreshment after koicha.
      I have written some entries about koicha. I’m not sure if you have already found them. If not, please check them out.
      Thick Tea and Thin Tea >>>
      I tried making koicha with different amounts of water >>>