During our business trip in Japan visiting suppliers and manufactures of Herbal and Green Tea products we were rather excited to participate in a few Japanese Tea Ceremony's and try different qualities and brands of Matcha Green Tea.
The Japanese tea ceremony is called Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese. It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one's attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one's heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture. Even the placement of the tea utensils is considered from the guests view point (angle), especially the main guests called the Shokyaku.
The Japanese tea ceremony is an artistic pastime unique to Japan that features the serving and drinking of Matcha, a powdered Japanese green tea. Though Japanese green-tea had been introduced to Japan from China around the 8th century, Matcha powdered green-tea did not reach Japan until the end of the 12th century. The practice of holding social gatherings to drink Matcha spread among the upper class from about the 14th century. Gradually one of the main purposes of these gatherings, which took place in a Shoin (study room), became the appreciation of Chinese paintings and crafts in a serene atmosphere.
Having taken part in Japanese Tea Ceremony's you come to understand that in Japan, serving tea is an art and a spiritual discipline. As an art, The Tea Ceremony is an occasion to appreciate the simplicity of the tea room’s design, the feel of the Chawan in the hand, the company of friends, and simply a moment of purity.
As a discipline, aesthetic contemplation of flower arranging, ceramics, calligraphy, and the roots of the Tea Ceremony which go all the way back to the twelfth century is required. The ritual preparation requires the person hosting a tea party to know how to cook a special meal (Kaiseki), how to arrange the flowers which will be placed in the alcove (Tokonoma). When choosing utensils and other vessels, the host (Teishu) has to consider the rank and type to make sure that they will stand out.
Video of a casual Japanese Tea Ceremony