JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY STEPS

Regardless of the tradition or style in which a service of tea is conducted, one single such service comprises of several stages the host observes to provide his guests with a bowl of tea and an enjoyable occasion. Each individual stage has a specific function in the unfolding of the service. I will lay out the basic structure of the steps of a basic service of Japanese tea ceremony according to the praxis of the Enshū school.

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DIFFERENT TYPES OF MATCHA, KOICHA AND USUCHA

It is thick tea, koicha, [濃茶] that is “tea proper”. Proper thick tea is mid-way between a liquid and a paste. It can only be blended [練(ね)る], using a bamboo whisk cut into tines that are fewer, and consequently thicker and stronger. Even for a single guest’s serving, the volume of powder required is such that, upon contact with that powder, the temperature of heated water immediately drops.

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THE JAPANESE TEA HUT OR CHASHITSU

When we consider the space in which we commonly conduct a service of tea, we become aware of the wide variety of layouts and sizes that these chambers or chashitsu come in. Each tea practitioner that lived and contributed to the development of the rite of tea throughout history, constructed and employed tea hermitages or tea chambers that suited his/her personal aesthetic and functional preferences.

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BASIC KAISEKI MANNERS

Without the cook, you won't have food. Without the waitresses, the food would remain in the kitchens. And without YOU, there would be no use for the chef to prepare food. But that makes no one more or less important to the occasion. The elementary courtesy when enjoying a traditional kaiseki meal is to show consideration for the other people part of this occasion. Be thoughtful of ways to make it easy for them to do their job. In the end, the better they can do their job, the more you get to enjoy your evening.

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BEST PLACES TO SEE CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN KYOTO

This article offers a list of our suggestions for places to visit in Kyoto during cherry blossom viewing season. My personal suggestion is to aim for the end of the season when the cherry petals float through the air and elegantly dance their way to the ground. This is a phenomenon that is often alluded to in classical poetry, and that captures the Japanese preference to savour beauty not at its prime, but in the transitional periods.

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