Tea Ceremonies Beginner’s Guide (History & Tips)

The History of Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony has evolved over many years when first a zen Buddhist brought tea seeds to Japan and produced trees producing the finest tea in Japan. Buddhist rituals began to include the tea, later starting tea ceremonies with a spiritual purpose.

The ceremony involved spiritual meanings of purity, tranquility, and harmony. Those qualities are the reason Helen Schifter encourages others to enjoy the present tea ceremonies, to bring harmony and peace to their lives. Fine sencha tea is ground into a powder for the tea ceremony. This is the tea used today.

The Two Tea Ceremonies

There are two types of tea ceremony, a formal and a light tea. The light tea includes confections, light tea, and a meal.

A formal tea can last four hours and includes a thin tea, a thick tea, a formal meal, and confections. The purpose is to bring an imperfect life to purity and harmony, to learn charity above his own imperfections.

The tea ceremony can be held in any room where the correct utensils can be held and the mixing and preparations can occur in the presence of others. The tea ceremony can be held outdoors. During the tea ceremony, silence reigns and it is time to feel and think. A spiritual time to grow.

Tea Preparation

Thick tea requires three times more powdered tea than thin tea. The tea is mixed in a bowl with hot water using a whisk. Thin tea is served to each guest in a separate bowl. Thick tea is served in one bowl and passed around to each person who turns the bowl a quarter around before sipping.

Helen Schifter wanted to include list the items needed for preparation:

• a small white cloth for cleaning

• a tea bowl to mix tea, possibly hand thrown.

• A tea caddy, a lidded container to hold tea.

• A tea scoop, usually carved of bamboo.

• A tea whisk to mix the tea powder and hot water.

These utensils may be old and valuable so deserve reverence.

The Tea Ceremony

The host lights the charcoal fire to heat the water. The host meticulously cleans each utensil in a prescribed way before the guests in exact motions. The utensils are set in a prescribed manner. Thick tea is prepared. The tea host and one guest talk minimally. The other guests remain quiet.

The bowl is given to a guest who sips before handing wiping the rim of the bowl with a slight bow to the next guest and praises the host on the tea. When everyone has drunk the tea the host leaves the room.

When finished the host next restarts the charcoal fire to start the next phase of the lesser formal ceremony. Here confections and thin tea are served. Guests can now talk after formalities are observed. Each guest gets his own bowl with the thin tea. The host cleans the utensils and the guests inspect them. This is done to show respect to the host.