Japanese Tea Ceremony

Introduction: Sometimes called the “tea ceremony” in English, this 500-year-old practice is more appropriately called “chanoyu” (hot water for tea) or chado (Way of Tea).

Aspects of Chado (Way of Tea): social, aesthetic, spiritual.

Purpose: to realize tranquility in communion with others within our world, including appreciation of nature & arts/crafts.

Principles: harmony, respect, purity, & tranquility, which can also be translated “enlightenment.”

Religions: Most associated with Zen, it has elements of Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism & Christianity. Some of its earliest & most famous practitioners were Christians.

Aesthetics: Read re Japanese “wabi” & “sabi.” Pottery, painting, calligraphy, metal work, lacquer ware, woodworking, carving, basketry, weaving, architecture, gardening, flower arranging, food preparation, incense, poetry, etc.

Procedure: Guests enter & contemplate the scroll’s theme for the gathering, the season of the flowers, & the host’s preparations. Host & guests greet. Assistant serves a sweet. Host purifies utensils while considering purity of heart & prepares tea. Assistant serves it. Host cleans up, re-checking purity of heart. Host & guests thank each other. Guests exit, again pondering the theme, the season, the setting.

Benefits: Physically, many healthy antioxidants & a slow-onset, gentle, long-lasting stimulation of caffeine. Mentally & spiritually, the meditative preparing & receiving of tea can train awareness to be both one-pointed & global while flowing in the “here-and-now.” This can generalize to daily activities in application of the four ancient principles.