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The Art And Essence Of Japanese Tea
Japanese tea ceremony is an art form.
Learning Japanese tea ceremony is a way to cultivate onself. Learning how to make the tea is not that difficult. But to understand the true meaning of the ceremony as well as the tea tools is difficult. It requires long term learning.
Before drinking the tea it is necessary to eat the sweet as the sweet helps to counter the bitterness of the tea. One must be able to appreciate the four elements of tea ceremony: harmony, respect, purity and loneliness.
Harmony refers to the spirit of being harmonious, to be peaceful. Respect is to show respect.
Purity is the state of purtiy of the mind. And loneliness means quiet serenity. Drinking tea enables oneself to have spiritual release.
When everyone sits on the tatmi, drinking tea , admiring the calligraphy and the beautiful music, one feels that he is leaving the hustle and bustle of city life and drifting into utopia.
Drinking tea can help in longevity. tea has many elements that helps to maintain one's health and vitality. Whisking tea powder in the bowl is also a form of exercise.
Japanese tea came from China during the 13th century when a prominent monk went to China to meditate. He brought it back to Japan from China.
A tea ceremony is performed with up to five guests. The ceremony could be divided into three parts, the preliminary part, the middle part, and the final part.
In the first part, the windows are curtained off by bamboo screens to darken the room, the scroll is removed, and a new one is put in its place.
In the middle part of the ceremony a very simple meal is served, followed by sweet cakes, after which the guests could go and relax in the inner garden.
The final part of the tea ceremony is called
nochiseki. The scroll in the alcove is replaced by a
floral arrangement, and the water jar, tea caddy and
the tea utensils will be placed in the area where the
ceremony will take place. The atmosphere of the room
is changed to a bright room. The host picks up the
ladle, a signal for his/her assistant to roll up the
bamboo screen, brightening the room once again. The
host performs the ceremony in silence, while the
guests concentrate on his movement. This is the climax
of the ceremony. The main guest will then speak to the
host while the other guests remain silent. Once the
tea has been drunk, silence continues. The fire is
smothered by adding more charcoal to the fire pit and
the sound of the boiling kettle dies down. Then, thin
tea is served, which signifies that the tea ceremony
is coming to an end.
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