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Cha Do ((茶道) - The Way Of Tea

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The tea ceremony is one of Japan’s most historic and revered cultural rituals. Its history is intertwined with the country’s love of, and appreciation for, the benefits of high-quality green tea.

There are two main types of ceremony the formal, ‘Chaji’ and the informal, ‘Chakai’. The traditional Chaji tea ceremony is usually held at noon and has a maximum of five guests and one host.

You’ll first enter a waiting room and be served a small cup of hot water, roasted barley tea, sakurayu or kombu tea. When everyone has arrived and is ready to begin, you’ll head outdoors to a waiting bench where you’ll stay until your host summons you.

After silently bowing, you’ll be led to the tsukubai, a stone basin, where you’ll rinse your mouth and wash your hands as part of the ritual cleansing process. After this, your host will take you to the tea house itself, which you enter though a small door by crawling through—known as a nijiri-guchi. All of the tea equipment will already be in place in the room.

As you sit down on the floor, you’ll be arranged in order of prestige. After the last guest has taken their place, the host will enter the room and welcome each of you individually.

Now the ceremony will start in earnest. A charcoal fire will be laid and used to heat the water. A meal will then be served in several courses with sake and a small sweet treat called a wagashi. Following this, there is a small break called a nakadachi during which the room will be cleaned and prepared for the serving of the tea.

A bell or a gong will summon you back to the tea room where you will once again ritually cleanse yourself. Once you are all seated comfortably, the host will enter and ritually cleanse each utensil— the tea bowl, tea scoop, and whisk— in a precise order and using a precise set of actions.

Thick tea will be served first. To begin, bows will be exchanged between the host and the guest receiving the tea. They will bow to the second guest and raise the bowl in a gesture of respect to the host. They will rotate the bowl to avoid drinking from the front of it, take a small sip, wipe clean the rim and then pass it on. The process is repeated until every guest has sipped from the bowl.

After the bowl has been returned to the host and cleaned, the fire will be rekindled— this usually signals the transition from the formal section of the ceremony to the more casual section.  Thin tea and sweets will then be served. You’ll each be given an individual bowl of this thin tea. In this section, you’ll be able to have casual conversation with the rest of your guests.

Finally, after everyone has finished their tea, your host will clean the utensils again. The guest of honour at the ceremony will then ask the host to let the guests look at some of the utensils in more detail. After this, the host collects the utensils and you leave the tea room. The host will bow from the door and the ceremony is officially finished.