Ancient Japanese Tea Ceremony in a Modern World
The traditional preparation of Matcha tea is revered as the highest element within ‘Chado’ – the Japanese tea ceremony – which is also known as ‘The Way of Tea’. It is also sometimes called ‘Sado’ or ‘Chanoyu’. It is considered a measured art that is refined and performed throughout a lifetime to discipline the mind. It has been present in Japanese tea drinking culture as early as the 13th century, and spread to all levels of society by the 16th century, much furthered and influenced in the 15th century by Sen No Rikyu – a famous tea master. Practitioners of Chado (茶道’) spend a lifetime perfecting the gestures of tea preparation, considered a way to spiritual enlightenment. The utensils used in tea ceremony are worshipped as true treasures and often handed over from master to disciple over several generations.
There are four principles of Chado aka as ‘Shiki’ as defined by Rikyu:
Harmony (in nature and aesthetic of surroundings)
Respect (of all things by intently observing their very nature)
Purity (leaving the world behind, being in the present)
Tranquility (after the three former principles are embraced – tranquility can be embodied)
To offer this Japanese Tea Ceremony is the ultimate gesture of hospitality, inviting the guest to partake in the appreciation of the present moment. Every element and movement of the ceremony is deeply considered and performed to create a calm, reciprocal dialogue between the offering of the host and the receipt of the guest.
Translating Chado Beyond Japan
Chado is very much a way of life in Japan yet beyond this island country, it is translated in many ways to suit the lives of the modern Matcha drinker. We’ve developed a complete range for both modern (fast) and traditional (slow) preparation that protects the integrity of the delicious character of our Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha and presents different styles for the individual.
As part of our journey to make Matcha accessible to a western world, we have been delighted to discover the travels of Toda Seizan of Kyoto (head monk of Daiji-in Daitokuji temple) who is challenging the traditional image of tea ceremony and its formalities across the world with his mobile bamboo teahouse ‘Kian’. Kian does not have traditional walls or ceilings, but a delicate bamboo frame that is very light and can be built in any space larger than 3m x 3m. Toda Seizan’s mission is to have more people experience tea and become interested in the Japanese tea culture by exploring the close relationship between Zen Buddhism and tea ceremony, revealing how to fully give attention to, and appreciate, tea.
Entering the structure, one is invited to make themselves comfortable, grounding themselves in the space around them in nature – making the connection at once with the boundaries of the tea house and the world beyond. A tea ceremony begins, asking the participant to notice every detail and to share a bowl of tea in this state of deep engagement – the ritual evoking a sense of peace and an intimacy with oneself and the others present.
Upon sharing Matcha in this way with Toda Seizan in the summer of 2018, his tea house built on the grasses at Regent’s Park, we discussed our shared approach to the tea ceremony, considering its meaning and value today and how in a world full of distraction, it is relevant now more than ever: calling us to ground ourselves in the present moment, fully appreciating the beauty and taste of tea.