Next time you’re arranging a relaxing “cuppa” with friends, you may want to borrow some of the ancient Japanese practices used in their traditional tea ceremonies to set the scene for what has been a source or spiritual satisfaction and deep bond strengthening for Japanese people over hundreds of years.
Or you may just want to enjoy drinking from the stunning handmade teapots, teacups and utensils that have been revered by the Japanese for centuries.
Whatever your preference this article will shed some light on the importance that sharing tea with friends - old and new - has had on the history of Japan.
The beginnings of traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies dates back to the 12th century when powdered green tea called “Matcha”, was first introduced by traders from China.
Over the next 200 years the practice spread and developed into a highly refined tradition enjoyed by the Japanese upper class, which included Japanese Emperors and rulers, elite warriors and wealthy merchants.
The tea ceremonies became a part of Japanese culture providing a tranquil environment for hosts and guests to communicate in an environment of harmony, respect and purity.
The artistic ritual of preparing and serving tea also allowed time for silent contemplation, making the ceremony a highly regarded and spiritual event.
Every element of the Japanese tea ceremonies from the placement of the ceramic utensils, to the art and architecture of the tearoom or surrounding gardens, and even the placement of the flower arrangements was carefully practiced and refined.
The movements of the tea ceremony host whilst preparing the tea was also considered a revered art that required years of study to master.
In recent years tea ceremonies have become more popular with young Japanese people and westerners alike, often served with a meal as part of social gathering.
Tea Ceremony Utensils
The utensils used in the tea ceremonies are the centrepieces of the tea ceremony with the tea bowl (Chawan) being the most important.
Each bowl is a unique handmade piece of art with the host often naming their tea bowl. Tea utensils soon became prized for the imperfections and impurities that rose to popularity in the 17th century when two great innovators of these natural and irregular shaped bowls and teacups, Nonomura Ninsei (1646–94) and Ogata Kenzan (1663–1743), began to sign their work.
In modern day Japan handmade ceramic tea mugs, bowls, pots and other utensils are still created using traditional methods and are highly sort after around the world.
At Salt Living we are lucky enough to now stock traditional teapots, teacups and utensils that are handmade in Japan. So you can bring a little history, tranquillity and spirituality to your afternoon cuppa, or arrange to hold modern day tea ceremony of your own.
Visit us in our store in Coolangatta or browse our range of handmade Japanese tea utensils online.