Japanese Tea Ceremony

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13323

In a simple room, guests enter quietly, without shoes. The host carefully prepares tea according to a ritual. Each movement is planned, peaceful, calm. What's going on here? Shh...it's a tea ceremony!


World Cultures

Social Studies
learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Watch a clip from the 1986 movie The Karate Kid, Part II as Daniel's friend, Kumiko, performs the Japanese tea ceremony for him.

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The Japanese tea ceremony is a ritual centered on the making and drinking of green tea. It's a way of showing hospitality to guests, bringing people together, and providing a peaceful refuge from the stress, noise, and constant activity of daily life.

Tea ceremonies are practiced in many Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, India, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

This lesson will focus on the Japanese version. (Focus will be on the social part of the ceremony, apart from any religious connections.)


But first, a little history! Take a look at the humble tea plant (Camellia sinensis in Latin).

tea tree branch

  • Would you believe this little plant has played a huge part in history?

Learn how by watching the video below.

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Take a closer look at the tea ceremony.

You've just been invited to a Japanese lady's home for a tea ceremony, so sit back and watch. Listen for the birds chirping and the guests' silence, and watch the precise, graceful movements of the host.

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Of course, making something look this easy usually takes a lot of effort!

Investigate what it takes to put a tea ceremony together. As you watch the next video, write down at least three things the host must do.

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A tea ceremony host is trained to do the ceremony precisely and correctly.

  • Why would someone want to be a Tea Master?

Meet one in the following video.

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Elements of the Ceremony

  • If you wanted to preside over a tea ceremony, what would you need?

Tea, Sweet Treats, and Implements

A powdered green tea called matcha is used, along with sweets called wagashi.

Many implements can be used, but the most important are a tea kettle, a tea bowl, a scoop to put the tea in the bowl, a ladle to bring the hot water, and a whisk to stir it up.

tea ceremony

You'll learn the Japanese names for all these items in the next section!

Proper Setting

The room should be simple and bare.

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Before entering the room, it's ideal for the guests to pass through a peaceful garden, to symbolize them leaving behind the world's problems and entering a peaceful, joyful place.

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Both men and women wear kimonos. Women wear colorful kimonos to a tea ceremony, but they should be simple, not heavily ornamented.

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The men wear mostly dark solid colors: black, gray, brown, or blue.

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The last element is the ritual itself. A ritual is a solemn ceremony with a series of actions performed in a precise order.

Each tea ceremony has its ritual. Some are connected to religious ceremonies, and some are not.

Wow, you've learned a lot about Japanese tea ceremonies!

  • Are you ready to learn how to do it yourself?

Head over to the Got It? section, where you'll watch a young boy learn how to perform the ceremony, and you can learn some Japanese as well!

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