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What is a Matcha Tea Ceremony?

This photo shots a matcha tea ceremony
Matcha Tea Ceremony

What is a Matcha tea ceremony? It is certainly much more than just the stirring of a tea pot! Some people have called it Zen Buddhism in a cup! Would you like to know more about this?

The Japanese Matcha tea ceremony (茶道, Sado or Chado) is deeply embedded in Japanese history and culture. In this post you learn something about the preparation of Matcha green tea during a tea ceremony. We participated in various tea ceremonies during our trips to Japan and therefore can explain first hand how it works!

As already said, the tea ceremony is deeply embedded in Japanese culture and it is not only about drinking Matcha. There is a strong focus on the philosophy behind it, which is strongly related to Zen Buddhism. The focus is on awareness, friendship, respect and mindfulness.

These aspects can all be found in the ritual of the tea ceremony, which always follows a certain process.

Why is Matcha Green Tea so special?

First of all, Matcha green tea is so special compared to "normal" green tea as you consume the entire tea leaf with all nutrients when you drink Matcha tea. Matcha tea is a finely ground powder and the plant grows in very special and unique conditions. This highly controlled process makes Matcha very special and perfectly suitable for a tea ceremony, which also follows a process. If you would like to find out more about what makes Matcha so special, please feel free to take a look at our other posts in the Education section.

How does a Matcha Tea ceremony work?

We love Matcha tea ceremonies, because they help you to slow down in hectic day-to-day life. In contrast to our coffee to go, a Japanese tea ceremony oftentimes lasts several hours.

Traditionally, up to five guests participate in a tea ceremony, which is led by an experienced tea master. The tea master follows a strict process when preparing the tea. It is his responsibility to transform the guests to so call "Chajin" (tea people), who radiate a certain calmness. This process is all about slowing down and becoming more mindful.

Traditionally, the tea ceremony takes place in special tea rooms or tea houses. There are certain steps that you can always find in a tea ceremony:

Step 1: On the day of a tea ceremony, the host, or tea master, wakes up early in the morning to start preparations.

Step 2: The guests arrive and are led into the tea house. In or around these special tea rooms or tea houses, you often find wells or flowing water and a beautiful garden. The path that leads to the tea house is usually never straight and is called "Roji". Guests walking on the "Roji" experience a sense of slowing down.

Step 3: Everybody sits down on the floor. The tea houses are never entered with shoes on. There are also no chairs, as you may have seem on photos before. Guests sit on their knees on the floor. All guests are "equal" in this ceremony. There are no barriers or classes anymore, and the tea ceremony is characterized by mutual respect. Purified water is boiled in a kettle on the floor and the tools are cleaned. All movements follow a certain choreography. The guests traditionally wash mouth and hands in the water basins to free and clean themselves from negative words and actions.

Step 4: A silk cloth, which represents the host’s spirit, is taken from their kimono sash. It is symbolically inspected, folded and unfolded, and then used to handle the hot iron pot.

Step 5: The Matcha tea is prepared. Powder and hot water are added and whisked in a pot.

Step 6: The Matcha bowl is handed to the first person who enjoys some of the tea. The pot is wiped before it is handed to the next person.

Step 7: Beautiful sweets are offered to the guests.

Step 8: The ceremony is brought to a close after the last person has handed the bowl to the host.

Tea houses and tea ceremonies become more and more popular again, as people seem to enjoy the sense of slowing down and mindfulness. A tea ceremony allows you to step away from the hectic of your daily life and to become mindful. Let us know if you have tried a tea ceremony before, and if you would like to learn more about tea ceremonies!


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