When talking about the features of Japan – a well- known country for long- lasting tradition and abundant culture, it would be a regret not to mention Japanese Tea Ceremony. In a simple definition, it is a Japanese cultural activity in which ceremonial preparation and the presentation of “matcha” as a main material are involved. Tea Ceremony has been one of the typical features of Japanese culture for such a long time. Tourists from all over the world, whenever coming to Japan, would be impressed by the custom of tea in this beautiful country. Japanese Tea ceremony is believed to be unique from its long – standing history to its various types of tea, its fresh materials and multi – step way of tea as well. Let’s find out more about Japanese Tea Ceremony which has become the pride of Japanese.
1. The history of Japanese Tea Ceremony
The history of Japanese Ceremony dates back to the 9th century when a Japanese Buddhist came back from China. At that time, in China, tea was used widely as a kind of medicine as well as a kind of drink that could help people relax. However, Chinese Tea seemed not to be focused and developed. That’s why tea was initially found in China but it was not very flourishing there. Unlike Chinese tea, despite its origin from China, Japanese way of tea itself then seemed to be realized by Japanese as a valuable kind of art. Hence, Japanese did concentrate on developing their custom of tea which makes Japanese tea ceremony become more special and unique than any other countries’ way of tea.
Besides, Buddhism also played an important role in the development of Japanese tea ceremony. Historically, “sencha” – one kind of tea product was brought from China by a Buddhist in to Japan. After that, tea became prevailing over the country of Japan and By imperial order in the year 816, tea plantations began to be cultivated in the Kinki region of Japan. However, the interest in tea in Japan faded after this. Not until the 12th century when another type of tea was introduced again into Japan called “matcha” – a kind of powdered tea was the interest in Tea of Japanese raised again. From that point, Japanese created their own famous tea ceremony that symbolizes Japanese culture and become such a typical kind of art in Japan.
2. Preparation for Japanese Tea Ceremony.
There are two main ways to prepare “matcha” for tea ceremony, called “thick tea” and ” thin tea”. ” Thick tea” or also known as Koicha is one using the best – quality tea leaves. The other matcha preparation is ” thin tea” which is also called ” Usucha” in Japanese. With “thick tea”, a thick blend of matcha is used which seems to three times thicker than the one used in “thin tea”. Matcha then was mixed in hot water creating a kind of liquid called “tea” as we all know which has the power to purify people’s mind and give people pleasure in life.
(The left is “thick tea” or Koicha and the right is ” thin tea” – Usucha)
3. Equipment used in Japanese Tea Ceremony.
One of the most unique features of Japanese Tea Ceremony is its utilization of many equipment which accordingly creates different types of tea. If in many other countries, tea is often served in cups, in Japan, it seems to be strange but realistic that tea is served in bowls called tea bowl, especially on important occasions. The other equipment include a tea whisk that is used to mix matcha powder with water, or a tea caddy which is used to contain powdered tea to serve during making tea procedure and a tea scoop often made by bamboo or wood which helps to transfer tea into the caddy.
Japanese Tea Ceremony has been well-known in the world since it first formed in Japan. Due to the influence of Buddhism, tea holds the ability to help people relax and enjoy their lives. If you are in Japan, spend your time in some famous places for Tea Ceremony such as temples and shrines in Osaka or Kyoto, you will certainly have chance to find out more about this interesting kind of art and furthermore, about the characteristic culture of Japan.