The Japanese Matcha Tea Ceremony

1 CommentSaturday, 19 September 2015  |  Adam

Buds are finely ground to make the charismatic matcha powder, but not before the bush from which those same tea buds are picked is thrown into shade, so inducing the surge of chlorophyll that turns the plant the vibrant-jade green for which matcha tea is so famous.

We sieve it, scoop it, whisk in hot water, and finally enjoy its creamy sweetness. But that's only half the story, of course, for matcha tea is integral to a fascinating part of Japan's cultural heritage: the Japanese tea ceremony, or the 'Way of Tea.'

Although there are a number of different ways of completing the ceremony, the guiding principle is always the same; that the host's choreographed ritual throughout the ceremony is centered around the guests in order to create for them an experience of spiritual harmony and purity, and a moment of calm contemplation.

But don't be fooled by the name; the tea ceremony takes in considerably more than simply a delicious cup of tea and may continue for as long as three or four hours.

Guests arrive and, as they wait, sip at hot barely water before being invited to the tea room by their ceremonially-dressed host, where they are seated according to their standing within the group. Once the guests have completed an artfully presented six or seven-course meal and warmed sake they retire to the waiting room.

A little later, the guests are once again seated, this time for the tea serving. First, they observe the careful and ritualised cleansing and preparation of utensils. Then the guests are individually served the fresh, aromatic matcha tea, which they drink one by one, taking care to wipe the bowl from which it is enjoyed before passing it on to the following guest.

Throughout the ceremony, the guests play as much a part in the correct observation of the various rituals, practices and etiquette as the host, particularly the guest of honor, who will be well-versed in how and when to correctly initiate certain proceedings, formally receive the dishes as they are presented, and make announcements to the group.

Finally, an inspection of the utensils concludes the ceremony, which if successful, will have not only brought about in guests and host alike a sense of spiritual calm, but also a strengthening of bonds between all the participants.

The way of tea: more than just a ceremony - and matcha tea from The Tea Makers is of the highest quality for your wellbeing and your palate. 

Andrea Weeding
Thursday, 10 December 2015  |  12:28


The Tea Makers of London