Friday, June 8, 2012

Japanese Tea Ceremony Demonstration

 While at Shofuso, the Japanese House and Garden, we were fortunate to observe a tea ceremony demonstration by Drew Sodo Hanson.  This glimpse into the disciplined aspect of Japanese culture provided the beginnings for understanding the tea ceremony, chanoyu, the way of tea.  There are many levels of complexity to the tea ceremony, and although learning the basics may take a few months, to truly master the art form requires a lifetime of study and dedicated practice.

The simple premise is to honor your guests by serving them a bowl of tea made using Matcha, a powdered green tea.  There are a host of steps leading up to the actual tea ceremony that involve conentration, relaxation, and an awareness of the beauty around the tea house.  Additional steps are involved in cleansing the tea utensils and offering the tea allowing the host and guest to attain a pure state of mind before enjoying the bowl of tea.  The saying 'ichi-go ichi-e' translates to 'treasure every encounter' as it is understood that this moment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  The circumstances of this gathering will not be repeated, so the host demonstrates utmost consideration for the guests, which inturn is  reciprocated by the guests.  The experience of the present moment shared by those involved can be profound, indeed spiritual.
 Little sweets are served before tasting the tea. It is thought that the sweetness of the candy will accentuate the flavor of the tea.  

Although the tea ceremony was a demonstration between teacher and student, our group was able to enjoy a sampling of the sweet followed by a bowl of matcha served in a chawan.  There is a spirit of heartfelt hospitality in the presentation of the tea to each guest.

There is a peaceful tranquility to the tea ceremony, offering a way to escape from the everyday stress of the world beyond the tea room.  This opportunity offered a glimpse into the history and culture of a faraway land through one of its deeply traditional arts. 
Drew Hanson has been a student of the Urasenke tradition of Japanese Tea since 1995, and is a licensed teacher in this tradition.  For additional information about Drew, please visit his website here.  Thank you, Drew.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I always love watching this ceremony. Those are the most beautiful sweets I have seen offered with the tea. They look just wonderful.