The ceremonial usage of tea has a long history in Japan, but it was not until the Muromachi Period that the way of tea developed into its ultimate form,complete with the aesthetic ideal of wabisabi. Wabisabi describes a way of viewing the world where simplicity is valued. Think empty spaces and imperfections.
(Funnily enough, in the 16 th century, the renowned warlord and lover of sadō, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, flew in the face of this wabisabi ideal by commissioning a tea house made entirely of gold.)
Tea rooms are usually set up according to certain rules. In the tokonoma or alcove, you can see a hanging scroll. These are often seasonal and can be accompanied by a hanging basket of flowers in a style developed especially for tea ceremonies (chabana).
The equipment. (Cha-no- yu is another name for sadō.)
These words are important to remember when following instructions. Tea ceremony is incredibly precise, and every single movement, whether you are crossing the room to sit down, or viewing the pattern on your tea cup, is dictated by strict rules. These rules have been passed down for centuries, which means that by participating in a ceremony, you are making the same movements that samurais were making five hundred years ago.
Tea ceremonies are not just about the tea. In fact, Japanese sweets are an essential component. There are two different types, higashi and namagashi. (In the above picture, the namagashi are hidden in cute box.)
There are so many different steps to be followed that it would be impossible to illustrate them all here and you will just have to experience them for yourself. We can, however, give you a sneak peak of some highlights.
Placing the matcha (green tea) in the cup is more complicated than you might think, because you have to hold the tiny spoon in a special way.
Taking the water from the kama.
Our teacher whisking the matcha! As you can see, it is traditional to wear kimonos when taking part in sadō.
…aaaand this is how you should drink the tea! At formal events like this, there is a traditional way of sitting known as seiza. It can be quite difficult for people who aren’t used to it, so don’t worry if you need to take a break!
Experiencing sadō is the perfect way to experience Japanese culture and tradition (as well as try some amazing sweets) so what’s stopping you?!