The Japanese tea ceremony known as chanoyu or chado has cultural significance. It is carried out at special places, involving proper rituals and specific pots for drinking and serving powdered green tea “matcha” through a special procedure called temae. It is unique to Japanese and not followed in the rest of the world. The tea is served to family, friends, and others. The tea ceremony has emotional and religious aspects as well.
Tea drinking was originally practiced by Chinese monks for meditation purposes, which was later borrowed by Japanese and Asians to the extent that it became part of their culture. The most important part of these tea ceremonies is not the tea but the setting. The tea houses, i.e., chashitsu, are built for this sole purpose and have a serene and calm atmosphere, decorated rooms, and gardens as essential components. Chanyuo is of two types formal(Chanyuo) and informal(wabicha).
The story behind Japanese tea Ceremony:
Tea was introduced in Japan as a result of cultural borrowing from China when the Japanese monks visited China in the early 19th century. At that time, tea was hailed as an herbal and exorbitant drink in China. Within no time, the tea was able to make its way to the emperor’s court and monk’s temples and became the subject of poetry due to its immense qualities.
At the time when Japanese monks visited China, the culture of tea drinking was taking its last breath. After a lapse of time, it was reintroduced by one of the monks from the sect of Buddhism, which was equally welcomed by all the tired of Japanese society.
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Tea was made in China using powered tea and a bamboo stick brew in hot water back then. Gradually, the Chinese gave up this method, and powdered tea was replaced by the infusion method. The Japanese followed suit and adopted the same tea-making method. However, during the Japanese tea ceremony, green tea is still prepared by a primitive manner using powdered tea.
The Aspects of Japanese Tea Ceremony:
The Japanese tea ceremony is way different from other everyday parties and gatherings. There are a subtle set of rules for the tea ceremony. The common thing among all the schools is that tea is to be prepared, served, and consumed in the same room, which is particularly built or designed for the tea ceremony. The guest is to be served a light meal separately from the tea.
The tea rooms are not built in the same style as the rooms of the monks and priests in their temple. Shoin-style rooms are becoming more common in Japanese homes. Mats cover the entire floor in these rooms, and there are two sliding doors, one made of rice paper and the other of cupboards, low-level desks, and a nook. While tearoom has a deviation from the rest of the rooms and doesn’t possess the same feature and has just an alcove and entranceway design for the ‘crawling in’ method.
The most important behaviors to be observed during the Japanese tea ceremony are respect and harmony. At the time when this ceremony was introduced, there was a civil war in Japan. Chanoyu provided the people with a wave of relief and peace in those war times. And proved beneficial in regaining peace among folks.
Not only the Tearooms but culinary used in the Chanoyu has remained the focus of teamsters to which they paid full attention to get the aesthetic perfection for the ceremony. These include ceramic pots for serving purposes, iron kettles for brewing purposes, and bamboo whisks and scoops. Nook is decorated with appropriate calligraphy and seasonal flowers.