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What Happens At a Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony? | PANATEA Blog

Though matcha originated in China, it became an integral part of Japanese culture through the tea ceremony. The Japanese tea ceremony is a time of quiet reflection and celebration of grace, mindfulness, and beauty. While the traditions are somewhat fluid there are mainstays you'll find at every Japanese tea ceremony—Find them below, with these illustrative .gifs from Karate Kid II. Whisk On, Whisk Off!

The Host

There isn’t a special class of authorities who host tea ceremonies. Rather, anyone who takes the time to learn and refine the practice sufficiently can host a traditional tea ceremony.

The Place

One of the defining features of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony is its simplicity. Though many formal ceremonies take place in dedicated rooms with bamboo mats, a tea ceremony can also be held in nature. Whether indoors or out, there is generally a door or entrance that everyone walks through—thought of as the great equalizer. Once through the entrance, master, student, and guest are all considered equals. 

How it Goes Down

The ceremony almost always follows a pattern of graceful movements and moments. First, the host must prepare everything—this might take a few hours depending on the formality of the ceremony. The guests also must prepare themselves by cleaning their hands and rinsing their mouths to rid themselves of “dust” from the outside world before entering the tea room or designated area. Next, guests are served a course of food, usually sweet. The host then cleans the tools and prepares the matcha with the graceful movements they have learned and rehearsed.

Drinking the Tea (Obvi)

The matcha is prepared and served in the traditional bowl, aka "Chawan". 

Finishing Up

Once everyone has had a sip, the host cleans the bowl and the guests are given a chance to look at and admire the tools that were used in its preparation. On the way out, the host and guests bow to each other as a sign of respect before leaving.

Sip up and zen out in your own home tea ceremony—all you need is some ceremonial matcha, a bowl, and whisk (or hey, get the whole set!). 

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