Did you ever watch a tea ceremony in person or on television, and wonder just how it came about? Or perhaps you wish to know about the ceremony to better explain tea to your customers. After all, it is very important to understand the past in order to fully grasp the present and the future.
The traditional tea ceremony actually came from China, not Japan, as many people mistakenly believe. The tea ceremony was a practice in China for thousands of years before a Chinese Buddhist monk introduced it to Japan in the ninth century. After its initial introduction, the tea ceremony became hugely popular in Japan.
The traditional tea ceremony first started in China for medicinal purposes. It later was used for recreational reasons. In the early ninth century, a Chinese author by the name of Lu Yu wrote about the tea ceremony and the cultivation and preparation of tea. This book was known as “Ch’a Ching”. Because Yu was very influenced by Zen Buddhism, Buddhist ideas had a great influence upon his outlook on the tea ceremony. Many people who partook of the ceremony later adapted these same ideas.
In the twelfth century, a new type of tea came about. This tea was called matcha, and was a powdered green tea. In the thirteenth century, samurai warriors came up with a way to prepare and drink matcha. These ways were incorporated into the tea ceremony as well. The traditional tea ceremony thus transformed into its own artistic and visual ritual.
By the time the sixteenth century came around, all of Japan was practicing tea ceremonies – across all social classes. A man known as Sen no Rikyu came about during this time. Today, he is one of the most historical figures in the tea ceremony. He introduced the concept of “ichi-go ichi-e” to the ceremony. This means “one time, one meeting”. He believed that every meeting between people should be something that is sacred because it can never happen again. His teachings of harmony, purity, respect, and tranquility are the foundations of the modern tea ceremony today.
Today, the Japanese tea ceremony (known in Japan as Cha-no-yu or sado) is a ritual that is influenced by Zen Buddhism and includes the drinking of matcha. Cha-no-yu is a single tea ceremony, while sado is the study of the ceremony itself. During the ceremony, the tea is prepared by a skilled practitioner and then served to people as they sit in a tranquil setting.
The tea practitioner must know all about the types of teas, as well as kimonos, calligraphy, flower arrangements, incense, ceramics, and other arts. . Even guests of tea ceremonies must know about sado and the gestures and phrases that are part of the ceremony. They must also know how to drink the tea and eat the accompanying foods.
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