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!

categories

World Cultures

subject
Social Studies
learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

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

The Karate Kid Part II - The Japanese Tea Ceremony Scene (6/10) | Movieclips from Movieclips:

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.

In this lesson, we'll focus on the Japanese version. (We'll also focus on the social part of the ceremony, apart from any religious connections.)

History

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

tea tree branch

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

Learn how by watching the TED-Ed video The history of tea - Shunan Teng:

Ceremony

Let's 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 chirping of the birds and the silence of the guests, and watch the precise, graceful movements of the host.

Japanese Tea Ceremony: A Moment of Ritual | TEALEAVES:

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

So, let's investigate what it takes to put a tea ceremony together. As you watch Here's how to host a proper Japanese tea ceremony | Your Morning, write down at least three things that the host has to do.

As you saw in the video, a tea ceremony host is trained in how to do the ceremony precisely correct.

  • Why would someone want to be a Tea Master?

Let's meet one, courtesy of National Geographic.

This Japanese Tea Master Has Been Hosting Ceremonies for Decades | National Geographic:

Elements of the Ceremony

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

Tea, Sweet Treats, and Implements

As you learned, a powdered green tea called matcha is used, along with sweets called wagashi. There are many implements that 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 to the bowl, 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.

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

Clothing

As you saw in the videos, both men and women wear kimonos. Women wear colorful kimonos to a tea ceremony, but they should be rather simple, not heavily ornamented.

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

Ritual

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

Each particular kind of tea ceremony has its own 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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