The Japanese Tea Ceremony was a much more complex, absorbing and meditative than the Chinese Tea Ceremony [Chongu Cha]. Through tea every human encounter is recognized as a single occasion which cannot be repeated. As such, every aspect of the ceremony must be savored as nothing is permanent. Seek beauty with your mind and heart and cherish the moment. Tea culture is “god like” and referred to as Teaism in Japan.
The ceremony takes place in a designated room, in our case defined by bamboo mats with shoes removed. Kim wore a simple creamy blue kimono. Usually up to four guests participate, and on Saturday Michael was the honored guest. He entered the ceremony by crawling through an imaginary tunnel to signify leaving any material items outside of the tea ceremony, as all are equal regardless of status or social position. No words are spoken.
Water is held in a stone jar and touched only by the host. Water represents Yin and the heat of the fire, Yang. The container symbolizes purity. A sweet is served to the guest as the host uses a fine silk cloth or Fukusa to wipe the ceramic jar. The Fukusa is carefully folded after each movement and requires a high level of concentration or state of meditation.
The tea bowl and whisk are rinsed and wiped. The water is poured to represent a waterfall. The tea, in this case a matcha is scooped and whisked, then presented to the guest with a bow.
The tea ware does not match and the tea bowl is usually a cherished item of the host and represents the moon (yin). It is placed next to the water container which represents the sun (yang). The bowl is wiped and turned after each guest drinks, though host does not drink any tea. The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a gift to the guest, a gesture of love or respect.
We had a crowd of well over 100 at the Activity Center at Selby Gardens for the Asian Cultural Festival. The tea ceremonies were sponsored by Local Tea Company. Kim answered many questions and was simply fabulous.
Next, I will post notes from the Korean Tea Ceremony soon.
The Tea Lady