In Japan, tea ceremonies have a long tradition and are a source of utter delight for lovers of this hot beverage. In today’s fast paced world, in particular, they offer time for peace and relaxation.
As a fundamental element of Japanese culture, tea ceremonies have their roots in Zen philosophy. Which is why pleasure alone is not the only consideration. Instead, the aim during the ceremony is to achieve the Sado (Way of Tea), which is associated with harmony and introspective awareness. According to Japanese teachings, People of Tea are characterized by calm, tranquility and warmth and have learned to withdraw into themselves.
Much more than drinking tea
The sequence of a Japanese tea ceremony has remained practically unchanged for thousands of years. It can last for a number of hours and is presided over by a Tea Master. This is also the person who prepares the hot drink in accordance with predefined rules. After the master has placed the powdered tea in a bowl, he pours the hot water over it and whisks it to produce a smooth blend. The bowl is then passed to the principal guest. The latter receives the bowl with thanks and audibly drinks the first sip from it as a sign of respect. The tea is then passed from guest to guest. Only when everyone has drunk is it time for conversation. In earlier times, a specially trained geisha with exceptional artistic knowledge was responsible for these conversations
A place of peace in everyday life
Japanese tea ceremonies take place in a separate tea house – a simple pavilion made from wood and bamboo and surrounded by a small garden. A short path made from stone slabs (roji) leads through the garden to the house. Traditionally, the entrance consists of a low, rectangular sliding door which acts as a symbolic separation between the peaceful indoor space and the world outside. The participants bend as they enter the tea house as a sign of their humility. Much of what happens in a traditional tea ceremony can be incorporated on a smaller scale in everyday life: By taking enough time to prepare and drink the tea. In this way, stress can be reduced and energy restored. Information on Japanese tea ceremonies and demonstrations in Germany can be found at: www.ueda-souko.de
Picture: Getty Images/Michael H