Tea drinking for the inhabitants of the East, especially China and Japan, is an ancient tradition. Tea culture is inseparable from the art, culture of these countries, the whole way of life. The ancient culture of Japan is full of unusual symbols and traditions, mysterious as a hieroglyph. One of these traditions is the world — famous tea ceremony.
Tea was brought to Japan from China in the VII century. At the origins of the spread of tea in the country were Japanese monks. In China, it was valued as a medicinal plant that helps with fatigue, eye disease, and rheumatism. Then, as a refined pastime. But such a cult of tea as in Japan, perhaps, was not in any country. This ritual has been performed almost unchanged in almost every Japanese home for centuries. Girls still in school remember the basics of ancient art. Many men also know how to conduct a tea ceremony.
In turn, this ritual gave rise to such arts as ikebana, Wabi-style ceramics, Japanese gardens, influenced porcelain, painting, and the interior of a Japanese home. The tea ritual influenced the worldview of the Japanese, and, conversely, the worldview of the Japanese of the XVI century brought to life the wabi style, determining the measured way of life, tastes, and mental makeup of the Japanese. The Japanese say that anyone who is well acquainted with the tea ceremony should be able to regulate their behavior in all cases of life with ease, dignity and grace. Japanese girls before marriage took cha-no yu lessons to acquire a beautiful posture, elegant manners.
There were and still are four basic principles of the tea ceremony: harmony (wa), reverence (kei), purity (sei) and peace (seki). The Eastern view of the world: an attempt to understand its essence through simple things, actions, contemplation, filled the tea ceremony with high meaning and charm. The meaning of the tea ceremony is that through simple actions, the path of spiritual improvement is available to a person. All stages of the ritual are held in strict order. The clothing must conform to the tradition of the ritual. For the ceremony, the participants (usually 5 people) dress in plain silk kimonos and special white socks designed for wooden shoes. Everyone has a small folding fan (sensu) in their hand.
Before the tea ceremony begins, guests spend some time in the front room (machiai). There, the host’s assistant (hanto) serves them flavored hot water. Then the master of the ceremony (Teixiu) appears and invites the guests to the tea house. They follow each other along a special path (riji) through the semi-darkness of the garden, admiring the beauty surrounding them. The closer to the house, the more the guests and the owner himself move away from the busy world. Going to a small well with clear water, they wash their hands and mouth. The guests then enter the tea room. The entrance to the tea house was low and narrow (66 cm wide and 60 cm high), so that guests had to literally crawl through it, humbling their temper. It was believed that by bending down, the guest shows his respect for the host. The low entrance gave another effect: the samurai could not enter the teahouse with a long sword and left it outside. It also symbolized the need to leave behind all the aggression that overcomes a person in the hustle and bustle of the world.
The guests went to the tea house and only after the guests got used to the situation, the host appeared and greeted the audience with a low bow. He would sit next to the hearth opposite the guests. Then the food was served on simple wooden trays (kaishi). It was customary to exchange bows during the serving of food. Then the host would invite the guests into the garden. After a short walk, the gong sounds announced the continuation of the ceremony in the tea room. The guests left the garden and returned to the house. The procedure for directly brewing tea (temae) and serving it to guests begins. In silence, the owner sat down by the hearth, over which a pot (kama) with boiling water was already suspended in advance.
Strong green tea was made from the young leaves of tea bushes. An important feature of the Japanese method was that the water when brewing tea had to have a temperature of the brewing time at the same time did not go beyond five minutes. After the tea was brewed, the host served the tyawan to the main guest. He bowed, placing the cup in the palm of his left hand, supporting it with his right. With a measured movement of his hands, he slowly raised the tyawan to his mouth. After taking a small sip, the guest had to appreciate the taste of the tea. As a rule, it is extremely tart and aromatic, which the Japanese have attached and still attach crucial importance to. After taking two more sips, the guest wiped the sipped place with a special paper (kaishi) and passed the bowl to the neighboring guest, who after a few sips sent it on. After passing around the circle, tyawan returned to the owner. One bowl was designed for three guests. The lap procedure took no more than 10 minutes. In general, the process of drinking tea was a very long ceremony.
The ritual ended like this: when the guests had drunk all the tea, the host rinsed the tyawan and tyasen, wiped the tyasaka again, and poured a full ladle of cold water into a pot of boiling water. This was the end of the official part of the ceremony. Then the host’s assistant would tell the guests that they could take a more relaxed pose (which is strictly forbidden during the ceremony). At the end of the ceremony, the guests thanked the host and went about their business. The owner watched them leave through the open door of the tea room.