An Introduction to Tea Ceremony

The French and wine, the Germans and beer, the Japanese and tea. This is not to say that the Japanese and tea are the most important of the three however for morning, noon, and night we Japanese cannot be separated from tea, we cannot live without tea.

It is unbelievable how people do not know the origin, history and how to drink tea in the correct manner.

In addition, tea has been considered medicinal and held with the highest respect from ancient times. It is very nutritious however some people unfortunately (carelessly) prepare the tea in such a way where all the nutrition are lost.

Tea is divided into 2 classifications, matcha and sencha. Sencha is divided into gyokuro, sencha, and bancha. The variety of the tea depends on the planting, talking care, and the manufacturing method.

However when we think of tea, we usually think of matcha, the powdered tea, ghiki-chah which is prepared by stirring the tea with a gcha-senh until frothy.

Since the time of Sennorikyu, this custom has been a physical and mental factor of life and now everyone thinks of tea ceremony or matcha in this way. However we must now also place greater importance on sencha and its qualities.

The custom of drinking tea and the method of growing tea originated from China.

In the oldest books dating from 729 AD Nara period, it is said that tea was first introduced in China in the Toh period, however it is also said that tea was in existence before this time in both Japan and China.

In the beginning, tea was used for medical purposes and very valuable.It was bitter and the color and fragrance was very inferior and very different from the tea we are familiar with today. At the beginning of the culture, it was used as a medicine but because of its inferior qualities it was ignored for a time.

The word for teabowl,gchawanh was developed or came into being in the Toh period.

At the end of the 12th century, Eisaizenshi introduced what is commonly known as tea today to Japan.

During the latter part of the 17th century, Ingen-zenshi became a Japanese and sencha became popular.

It is said that towards the end of the 16th century, according to Sennorikyu , the tea ceremony was completed and finalized however at the end of the 18th century, Kouyuge nicknamed Baisao criticized the formal tea (matcha) world, zen religion and the samurai class, who practiced the ceremony.

However Sennorikyu promoted the future direction of sencha, but he did not teach this style.

In 1755 when he was 81 years old, he destroyed all of his materials and implements by burning them, all the tea ceremony utensils and materials which he has used for so many years.

After that, authors and calligraphers such as Akinari Ueda, Raisanyo, Mokubei Aoki spread the use of sencha. Among them, Raisanyo said that those who do not know sencha and its qualities are uncivilized.

The spirit of freedom was respected by the highest people in the literary world who disliked confinement and formality.

The world of sencha was greatly respected by the literary world, from which came the group known as so-sho-ha or the philosophers, and like the literary artists of that time, the philosophers also started sencha.

These 2 groups became popular at the end of the Edo and beginning of the Meiji period and their history has been followed' to now (present day).

In other words, it is the upmost desire of the sencha world that everyone will acquire a taste for and learn to enjoy sencha in the correct manner.