Japanese tea ceremony is called "Sado" or "Chanoyu".
It is an artistic ritual of serving special powdered green tea called matcha.
The place of original green tea is a southern part of China. In ancient times, people drunk tea for medical purposes. Later, Zen-Buddhist monks drunk tea to remain alert for their religious duties.
The custom of drinking tea was introduced from China to Japan by Eisai, a famous Zen monk, in the 12th century. It gradually spread to the aristocracy and warrior class.
In the 15th and 16th century, wealthy merchants joined to these groups. Murata Juko and Takeno Joo developed the tea ceremony style featuring “refined simplicity”, and finally Sen-no Rikyu made it into an integrated art form.
■ The way of tea ceremony
In the tea ceremony, people drink tea in a simplified and refined way. A host treats guests in a traditional tea room. The host usually wears kimono.
(1) Guests are served with a piece of Japanese sweets.
The host will sit in front of the guest and place the dish of sweets in between them. The host bows and says that these are sweets for the guests to eat. The guest bows back.
When the host says "please eat", the guest takes one of the sweets and places it on a piece of paper, passes the dish to others, and eats it.
It is good to eat sweets to balance the bitter taste of the green tea.
(2) The host prepares a bowl of tea
The host puts one and half tea scoops of powdered green tea in a bowl, pours hot water with a bamboo ladle, and then mix with a bamboo whisk until it becomes frothy.
The host places the bowl of tea in front of the guest and bows.
(3) Guests drink it in the simplified way.
The guest bows to the host and other guests, takes the tea bowl with right hand and places it on left palm. Then slightly lifts up the bowl and turns the bowl clockwise with right hand. It helps to avoid sipping from the most important part of the bowl.
Now the guest can take a sip three and a half times, and it is supposed to make a slurping sound in the last sip. This tells the host that the tea is being appreciated.
After finishing the tea, the guest wipes the part of the tea bowl lips have touched with the fingers of right hand, then turns the bowl counterclockwise until to see its face, and finally places the bowl right in front. Then enjoys the beauty of the bowl, its inside, outside, and even its bottom by turning it over.
■ behavior in the tearoom
Bowing is essential in Japan, when greeting and thanking others.
In the tearoom, we express our respect and gratitude many times by bowing to a particular person or utensil in given situations during tea ceremony.
We do not speak too much, instead, bow with a respectful heart.
Four principles of Tea are Harmony, Respect, Purity and Tranquility. They will increase spiritual awareness and help people find inner peace.
One of basic spirits of the tea ceremony is that the host and guests should cherish this meeting as once in a lifetime event. Sado is regarded as a form of artistic discipline for the cultivation of mental composure(落着き) and elegant manners.
(1) "A complete guide to Japanese culture and scenic spots in English" written by Toshiko Ueda and Ichizo Ueda, published by Goken
(2) "Tearoom conversation in English" published by Tankosha