A tea ceremony is a ritualized form of making tea practiced in the East Asian cultural sphere by the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese tea ceremony. The tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of tea. The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called Tea ceremony. The Japanese tea ceremony is better known, and was influenced by the Chinese tea ceremony during ancient and medieval times. One can also refer to the whole set of rituals, tools, gestures, etc. used in such ceremonies as tea culture. All of these tea ceremonies and rituals contain "an adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday life", as well as refinement, an inner spiritual content, humility, restraint and simplicity "as all arts that partake the extraordinary, an artistic artificiality, abstractness, symbolism and formalism" to one degree or another.
At a very basic level, tea ceremonies are a formalized way of making tea, in a process which has been refined to yield the best taste. Historical documents on the subject include the 8th century monograph "The Classic of Tea" and the 12th century book Treatise on Tea.
The tea ceremony is understood and practiced to foster harmony in humanity, promote harmony with nature, discipline the mind, quiet the heart, and attain the purity of enlightenment, the art of tea becomes teaism. The term "chadao" has two words, the first being 'tea' and the second the Chinese loanword tao/dao/ native suffix -ism (also Japanese: 主義), and could thus be read as 'teaism'. Another, more literal reading of the word is the 'way of tea' (茶 tea and 道 way), comparable with for example 弓道; the way of the bow. The term can be used to describe tea ceremony as the interests in tea culture and studies and pursued over time with self-cultivation. Teaism is mostly a simplistic mode of aesthetics, but there are subtle insights into ethics, and even metaphysics. Teaism is related to teamind. A sense of focus and concentration while under the influence of great tasting tea. Teaist is a person who performs or enjoys the art of tea and teaism. In Chinese and Japanese, as well as Korean traditional culture, there are well developed teaisms.
Tea houses in tea gardens
In Japanese tradition a tea house ordinarily refers to a private structure designed for holding Japanese tea ceremonies. This structure and specifically the room in it where the tea ceremony takes place is called chashitsu (茶室?, literally "tea room"). The architectural space called chashitsu was created for aesthetic and intellectual fulfillment.
The tea garden was created during the Muromachi Period (1333–1573) and Momoyama Period (1573–1600) as a setting for the Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu. The style of garden takes its name from the roji, or path to the teahouse, which is supposed to inspire the visitor to meditation to prepare him for the ceremony. There is an outer garden, with a gate and covered arbor where guests wait for the invitation to enter. They then pass through a gate to the inner garden, where they wash their hands and rinse their mouth, as they would before entering a Shinto shrine, before going into the teahouse itself. The path is always kept moist and green, so it will look like a remote mountain path, and there are no bright flowers that might distract the visitor from his meditation. Early tea houses had no windows, but later teahouses have a wall which can be opened for a view of the garden.
In China, a tea house (茶館, cháguăn or 茶屋, cháwū) is traditionally similar to the American cafe, albeit offering tea rather than coffee. People gather at tea houses to chat, socialize, and enjoy tea, and young people often meet at tea houses for dates. The Guangdong (Cantonese) style tea house is particularly famous outside of China. These tea houses, called chálou (茶樓) serve dim sum (點心), and these small plates of food are enjoyed alongside tea.
Uses of tea drinking
Tea ceremony is a blend of these two principles, sabi and wabi. "Wabi" represents the inner, or spiritual, experiences of human lives. Its original meaning indicated quiet or sober refinement, or subdued taste "characterized by humility, restraint, simplicity, naturalism, profundity, imperfection, and asymmetry" and "emphasizes simple, unadorned objects and architectural space, and celebrates the mellow beauty that time and care impart to materials." "Sabi," on the other hand, represents the outer, or material imperfection of life, also the original nature of things. Zen Buddhism has been an influence in the development of the tea ceremony. The elements of the Japanese tea ceremony is the harmony of nature and self cultivation, and enjoying tea in a formal and informal setting. The Japanese tea ceremony developed as a "transformative practice", and began to evolve its own aesthetic, in particular that of "sabis" and "wabis" principles. Understanding emptiness was considered the most effective means to spiritual awakening, while embracing imperfection was honoured as a healthy reminder to cherish our unpolished selves, here and now, just as we are - the first step to "satori" or enlightenment.Tea drinking is used as an aid to meditation, for assistance in fortune telling, for ceremonial purposes and in the expression of the arts.
Comparable tea drinking habits around the world
Corresponding tea drinking habits can be found worldwide, though not with the same inner spiritual content, or the quiet and sober refinement, nor characterized by humility, restraint and simplicity, as the Oriental tea ceremonies. In Europe, including the Victorian-era 'high tea' or afternoon tea ritual, was a social event, where the ritual of being seen to have the right equipment, manners, and social circle, was just as important as the drink itself. The Victorian-era tea was also influenced by the Indian tea culture, as for the choice of tea varieties. The Royal Society of Chemistry's Dr. Andrew Stapley has written about the chemistry behind brewing tea, and some traditional ceremonies using leaf tea appear to closely mimic his suggested method, including the idea of synchronizing ones' actions with the temperature of the water.
The American tea culture has roots that trace back to the Dutch colonization of the Americas. In the colonies, teas were served with silver strainers, fine porcelain cups and pots and exquisite tea caddies. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in fine teas in America, mainly due to the lifting of China’s ban on exports in 1971. Since the 1920s, Americans could not get Chinese tea and very little Indian tea was imported.
- History of the Japanese tea ceremony
- Varley, Paul; Kumakura, Isao (1989). Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu. University of Hawaii Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-8248-1218-2.
- The Book of Tea
- Young, The Art of the Japanese Garden, pg. 118-119.
- "Chado, the Way of Tea". Urasenke Foundation of Seattle. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- Taro Gold (2004). Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 19−21. ISBN 0-7407-3960-3.
- Milton, Joanna "A Nice Cuppa: The English Tea Ritual" in Dick Riley et al. [Eds] The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie [Second Edition] (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001) pp.18-21
- Orser, Charles E. [ed.] "Tea/Tea Ceremony" in Encyclopedia of Historical Archaeology (Routledge, 2002) p.604
- Stapley, Andrew (2003). How to Make a Perfect Cup of Tea. London: Royal Society of Chemistry.
- Griffiths, John (2011). Tea: a history of the drink that changed the world. London: Carlton Publishing Group.