The Japanese tea ceremony had its origins 700 years ago when Zen Buddhist monks began drinking tea from a single bronze bowl in front of a statue of their founder, Budhidharma, during worship.
However, it was about 500 years ago that founder Sen No Rikkyu began to develop the simple tea ceremony, as practiced by the monks. He transformed the ceremony to a ritual of humility, simplicity and self-cultivation.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony now captures all the elements of Japanese philosophy and artistic beauty, and interweaves four principles – harmony (with people and nature), respect (for others), purity (of heart and mind), and tranquility.
The ceremony may be performed in a specially designed room in a private house, in a tea house within a private garden, in a designated complex of rooms in the workplace, or in a public tea house.
Each occasion is different and aesthetics plays an important role. Flower arrangement, calligraphy, wall hangings, and tea wares are carefully chosen to create the desired atmosphere depending on the guests, event and the time of year.
Becoming a true Tea Master is a lifetime’s work because the Tea Ceremony involves a deep understanding and appreciation of a complex combination of sensual and spiritual elements. However, a student can learn enough of the basic movements and rituals to create a tea after three years or so of dedicated study.