What happens in a tea ceremony?

When you go to a public tea ceremony you'll be treated to a delicate sweet and fine matcha powdered green tea. Calligraphy, flowers, ceramics, lacquerware and the other art pieces are selected to evoke feelings of the season. The sound of the hissing kettle will calm while the scent of incense opens your mind. A beautiful ceremony is performed for you according to a tradition handed down for centuries. You sip tea and the refreshing taste harmonises with the sweet remaining on your palate. For the remainder of the ceremony you reside in a contemplative mood reflecting on the season, the art, the warm human sentiment, and the overall beauty of this serene environment.


This is a nice picture, but the gastronomy and art appreciation aspects do not exhaust the benefit of a tea ceremony. It's the spirit encompassing these activities that enables the Way of Tea to transcend ages and not fade away as an aristocratic fad.


The spirit encompassing the Way of Tea developed through thousands of years of history in China and Japan. Daoists and Zen monks embrace tea wholeheartedly: for Daosits it is an elixir of immortality, and in Zen tea is used extensively to prevent drowsiness during meditation. Daoism holds universal truth can be grasped through everyday activities - like drinking tea. Zen takes this thought to a whole new level. Zen says enlightenment is grasping universal truth here and now, in the particulars of everyday life. You can't get much more 'everyday life' than preparing tea.


The value of grasping enlightenment through everyday activities was explored in the activity of tea drinking. Through this development thousands of years of Daoist and Zen thought were embedded in tea drinking. As the zen phrase proclaims: 茶禅一味 (chazenichimi) 'The Way of Tea and Zen are one'.


So at a tea ceremony the rich spiritual history of Daoism and Zen combines with the sensual pleasures of appreciating the visual arts, tastes, scents, and tranquility of the tearoom, making a tea ceremony one of the most fulfilling and spiritually rewarding experiences. Why not see for yourself?