How to perform the Japanese matcha green tea ceremony at home
The origin of matcha and the Japanese green tea ceremony known as ‘Chanoyu’, ‘Chado’ or ‘Sado’ are very intimately linked because it was only after drinking green tea became a habit with the early Japanese people did the tea ceremony emerge. It was the early Buddhist monks who first recognized the benefits of matcha during their long hours of meditation that the tea ceremony propagated.
The steps of the tea ceremony may have slight variations depending on the season, school and time but it is generally the same. The most enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing is the summertime outdoor version because it allows you to leave your worldly burdens momentarily to connect with nature.
Step 1: The Host Prepares for the Ceremony.
Preparation for the event starts weeks before the actual date of the ceremony. At this time, the host must:
- Send invitations must be sent out to guests so they have time to purify themselves
- Choose the tea ceremony instruments
- Choose the right environment. The tea ceremony usually happens in the living room, but if the weather permits it, a tea garden is an excellent choice for the free-flowing air
Step 2: The Guests Prepare for the Ceremony
Attending guests must purify themselves by ridding their minds of negative thoughts in order to achieve zen during the ceremony.
At the venue, the must first wait for the host’s signal to clean their hands to physically and symbolically get rid of the external elements. They do this at the entrance of the living room where a bowl of hot water with a warm towel is prepared.
Step 3: Purifying the Instruments.
Once the guests are settled, the chosen instruments must then be purified. The host uses a linen cloth called the ‘chakin’ to wipe the bowl, spoon and whisk and they must do it with grace and good posture. In this step, the emphasis is given not towards quick movements, but a silent soothing moment.
A soft cotton towel may be used in the place of the chakin.
Step 4: Preparing the Matcha
The hosts uses a ‘chawan’ (tea bowl) whose size will be according to the number of guests at the ceremony. This harkens back to the early days of matcha drinking where guests share a single bowl of matcha within themselves.
Three to four scoops of matcha powder is allocated per guest using the ‘chanshaku’ (tea spoon) and the matcha is briskly mixed with hot water using the bamboo whisk called the ‘chasen’ with a rapid mixing ‘W’ motion.
Step 5: Matcha Tasting and Finalization of the Ceremony
The honor of the first sip goes the guest of honor, who then wipes the bowl to the next person until it goes around to the host. At that point, the bowl is empty for the final cleaning of the instruments. The guests are invited to inspect the thoroughness of the cleaning by holding them with a chakin.
The guests bid the host goodbye in the same way as they entered, and thus the tea ceremony is concluded.