The tea ritual or « chanoyu », as practiced in Japan
The art of learning to prepare tea with style as the Japanese do because they are really attached to their ancient traditions.
Enjoy a cup of tea seems easy for anyone, boiling water, let steep a few leaves, and voila.
This is notwithstanding the delicate way the Japanese show to give his titles of nobility to a drink which appeared 1,100 years ago.
A short history of tea in the land of the rising sun
In Japan, tea (cha) is a real ceremony where the rites, traditions, subtlety and refinement are part of tasting the precious nectar and, thanks to a Buddhist monk named Kukai, Shingon sect , which brings it back to China in the ninth century AD.
The tea is very quickly only for an elite, noble mainly and appears in Buddhist ceremonies. The emperor is fond of it for its taste and for its curative powers.
The Madness of tea growing so much,that in the sixteenth century, a Zen monk named Sen Rikyu-o (1522-1591) wrote a code of tea under strict, extremely complex rules. Tea masters will always refer even today to deliver their courses.
Schools of Japanese tea popping up all over the world, teaching etiquette and the art of tea, however, only three of them are known worldwide Urasenke, the most prestigious, and Omotesenke Mushanokojisenke. The apprenticeship lasts at least three years before hoping to start practicing, but his whole life, the student seeks perfection, which requires an understanding of sensuality and spirituality together.
Four major principles essential to apply
Students are supported by four basic principles, derived from meditation to try to progress at best:
The purity of heart and mind (Sei)
Harmony with Nature (Wa)
Respect for others (Kei)
Based on a topic chosen carefully (the arrival of the full moon, the type of tea used, the growth of cherry blossoms or anything else), the ceremony lasts from one to five hours. The school which is from the tea master may also affect the length.
Tea ceremony in detail
Initially, guests enter a room, a sort of waiting room. A small bowl of fine porcelain, filled with hot water, is offered to everyone present. Then they head to the garden to meet their guests dressed in kimonos (for women embroidered and plain silk for men) They find a stone basin used to wash their hands and rinse their mouths. Then, depending on the time of day or night, a gong or bell sounded five to seven times.
Each participant will go, then, very slowly inside the tea house, shoeless and marvel at the decor and fittings used for the preparation (13 to 24). Only then is asked to squat on the mat (tatami). A charcoal fire is immediately turned on, there arises a kettle full of water that will be heated to 85 ° C. Here, the symbol of yin and yang makes sense, yin is water and yang fire. Bowls used for the preparation of the drink are different depending on the season of the year, spring, summer, fall or winter.
The dosage is important, two or three teaspoons of powdered green tea are placed at the bottom of the bowl after adding hot water, stir everything with a small bamboo whisk until it turns into a slight green foam.
The presentation of the tea bowls
Depending on the school, each guest brings his own bowl or the same bowl is presented in turn to each, the bowl is rotated several times as a sign of respect and modesty, before being offered for tasting.
Clean the instruments used is part of the rite because some are true museum pieces too. For presentation to guests (who have rave politely but succinctly), little is said not to disturb the feeling of well-being in order to assess, in the quiet, the decor of the place (even if it is reduced to its simplest expression) or admiring serenely to pretty flower arrangements and some calligraphy paintings scattered here and there.
Having closely followed the various stages, one can only admire the extreme refinement with which the Japanese show their expertise in this area …