The tea ceremony was made into a tradition by the Samurai lords of Japan. Tea was first introduced to Japan in the 12th century by a Japanese priest who returned from China with some tea.
Since then the culture of Matcha tea has developed. Matcha is different from Chinese loose leaf teas because it is ground into a powder. The Samurai would leave their sword outside of the tea house so that everyone inside could be equal.
The tea ceremony should be a spiritual occasion, each meeting should be treasured, for it can never be repeated. It’s written like this in Japanese
The four things to consider during the ceremony are these
Before the tea, sweets are handed out for each person. The ritual for eating is the same as the drinker section so i’ll describe that below.
There is a tea master present at the ceremony, he had to study for 10 years to become a Sensei (master), although the studies include other things such as flower arranging, and calligraphy. Our Sensei said to me afterwards that he likes coffee! He was a cheeky chap. Here he is popping some tea into the drinking bowl.
And here I am giving it a go. In his jacket.
You can see the pot of steaming water just underneath the wooden ladle. The ladle is made out of bamboo, it was beautiful.
As you can see the right hand index finger sits underneath the top of the ladle, the next step is to slide your hand down the wooden handle, then twist it anti clockwise, so that the handle rests between your thumb and your forefinger on the top of your palm. You then grip the ladle in a pincer like movement.
From there you dip the ladle into the water, bring out a full cup. Pour it into the drinking bowl.
With your right hand like this
Your left hand goes underneath like this
You slowly make large circles with the bowl twice to wash the inside.
With your left hand, you tip the water into a bowl for dirty water on your left side. With your right hand, you pick up a cloth and wipe the bowl. You then do this
And put the bowl back on the floor. With your left hand you pick up the tea powder container, take the lid and the little ladle off with your right hand and place the lid on the floor. With your right hand you ladle out two scoops of powder and then tap the ladle twice on the edge of the bowl.
Flatten off the mixture, then replace the lid onto the container with your right hand and place on the floor.
Back to the ladle for the water. Underside index finger of your right hand, slide down, then twist and grip. You’re getting the hang of it.
Half a cup of the ladle into the bowl with the tea powder, I feel like Delia Smith now, then take the whisk with your right hand and whisk up and down very fast. Fast enough to create air bubbles in the tea. Listen to the sound like the natural stream.
Once this is done, take the bowl like this
Now there’ll be a picture on one side of the bowl which is facing you at this point. Turn the bowl with slight adjustments so that the picture is facing the drinkers to the right of you. Place the bowl on the floor with your right hand.
The bowl will be passed to you, pick it up like this
and place it between you and the person sitting next to you. Place your hands on the floor like this
Then you say: “May I drink first?” which in Japanese is ‘Osaki ni Itadakimasu’. The person to your left must say: “Please go ahead.” which in Japanese is ‘Osaki ni dozo’. This is also the process for offering food so drink can be interchanged with eat.
You can then pick up the bowl with your right hand and hold your left hand underneath. Turn the bowl twice clockwise. And drink 3 times without a noise, once with a slurping noise to show that you enjoyed the tea.
You then wipe the bowl from left to right with your finger, turn it twice anti clockwise so the picture faces you and put it down on the floor with your right hand. Then you say: “Thank you very much” which in Japanese is ‘Arigatou gozai mashita’.
The bowl then gets washed again and it is repeated.
All that’s left to do is be happy