View Full Version : The Japanese Tea Ceremony -Up close & Personal !

Prince Loeffler
17th June 2003, 07:01
To give some basic on this subject. Here's a link that provides basic historical info:


Has anyone here have experienced or witness this magnificent art if so, can you kindly share with us ? Personally, I know these sounds like ridiculous stupid questions, but I'll ask anyway

1) what does the tea taste like ?

2)Is performing the tea ceremony like performing kata (are all movement pre-arranged)?

3) How long does this ceremony usually last ?

4) What are you thinking or feeling when performing this ceremony.

I am sure that I can find many articles and notes regarding this subject over the net...But I rather read it from someone here who has actually performed or even witness it.

Thanks in advance...

Earl Hartman
17th June 2003, 19:54
I have participated in a few tea ceremonies. I was once invited in to have some tea when I was walking through a park in Tokyo which has a number of traditional tea houses in it. It was pleasant, but not something I would spend any time studying.

Thumbnail impressions:

1. The women's kimono were very pretty, as was the setting.
2. The tea is very strong and bitter (kind of like what espresso is to regular coffee), but it tastes good if you have a nice sweet with it to balance the bitterness.
3. The ceremony itself is very fussy and controlled in the way only something Japanese can be. AFAIK, the movements of the person making the tea are all strictly choreographed. The guests are also expected to behave in certain ways and say specific things only at certain times. There is also a very specific way in which the guests are expected to admire the tea utensils and make small talk.
4. You have to sit in seiza for a VERY long time, which, although I can do it fairly well, can get really excruciating if things drag on for too long.

Basically, I like the tea, the clothes, the utensils (which can indeed be very beautiful) the traditional architecture of the tea house, the decor and the nice, quiet, natural setting. However, I find the ceremony itself quite boring and far too rarified, fussy, and etiquette-laden for my tastes. I have also known a few foreigners who were quite captivated by the whole tea thing and I found them to be the kind of people I really didn't want to spend too much time with, as they seemed to me to be excessively interested in their clothes, and in a certain precious, rarefied idea of refinement and decorum which I personally find stultifying and bloodless. The whole thing has a kind of Martha Stewart sterility to it, or so it seems to me. I suppose, however, that as with anything, there are people whose understanding of the tea ceremony is on a much deeper level. I just don't have the time or the interest to look into it.

Of course, I'm just a foreigner. What do I know about the Real Spirit of Japan?:D

Joseph Svinth
18th June 2003, 02:12
There is always "The Book of Tea" by Okakura. It was first printed in 1906, so it has been put online. See, for example,