What is chaji (tea ceremony)?
When speaking about chakai (tea party), there is an image of a tea party during which one receives sweets to go along with matcha (green tea). However, a traditional tea ceremony includes eating “cha-kaiseki”, which are traditional snacks served before the tea ceremony. The tradition of “cha-kaiseki” was established during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573-1603) by the famous tea master Sen-no-Rikyu.
During the tea ceremony, one first eats cha-kaiseki and after getting full, consumes sweets along with strong and weak-flavored powdered green tea. The tea ceremony is an important communication tool, and is often used in business negotiations. It is based on the old Zen concepts of “wabi” and “sabi” and maintains a quaint, deep structure and content.
Cha-kaiseki, traditional food a master meets his guests with
Cha-kaiseki is a Japanese cuisine that is served before a tea ceremony. It includes rice, soup, and boiled dishes along with Sake (Japanese rice wine). It stems from the food that is consumed by Zen monks because it is low in calories and healthy.
Apart from taste and flavor, you can feel the four seasons manifested in every dish with your five senses.
Finally, a cup of Sake is presented on a square tray with some appetizers. Since the 25 cm tray is rectangular, the appetizers are called “Hassun” (Eight Sun), “sun” being the measure of length. These appetizers are divided into “seafood”, “food from the mountains”, “animals” and “plants”. These totally polar ingredients are arranged and spiced in a special manner.
The cup of Sake goes around from the guest of honor to the host, from the host to the next guest and from the next guest to the host, and this is called 'Chidori no sakazuki' (a Sake cup going around in a meandering fashion). This sort of thing is done before the actual tea ceremony in order to bring people closer.
The tea ceremony: “Koicha” (strong tea) and “Usucha” (weak tea)
Note: Only “usucha” is offered during the tour.
Style: Prepare the tea cups according to the number of guests and then put a little powdered tea into the cup and whisk until foam appears.
Taste: Experience the bitterness and sweetness of the powdered tea.
Additional details: Rules of the tea ceremony require that it is to be conducted in absolute silence. Please refrain from talking.
Style: Put the necessary amount of green tea powder into the bowl and then add a small amount of hot water and whisk. Rotate the bowl and then drink the tea. In this manner of drinking tea, the guests and host are able to share a peaceful time together.
Taste: It is possible to experience both the bitterness and sweetness of the matcha (green tea).
Additional details: A general rule is to maintain silence during the tea ceremony. Please refrain from conversation and concentrate on the tea ceremony.
“True Hospitality” that is based upon Zen teachings
When you hear about “true hospitality” there is always a one-sided image of a shop owner greeting customers. As such, maybe you had an experience when you weren’t that comfortable receiving service in a shop or restaurant.
In Japan, an old Zen principle “ichiza konryu” (one time, one meeting) is very important. This means that the cooperation of the host and guests is focused on one activity, which is a central idea of the tea ceremony even today.
Experience the true amazement of the tea ceremony
Through “Mat-Cha-Doh” tour, you can experience traditional Japanese food along with a real Japanese tea ceremony.