The Way of Tea

Tea ceremony by candlelight
Photo Credit: Carolina Erickson-Kanis, tea student

Chado, or the “way of tea”, is a formalized Japanese ritual that dates back to the 16th century and was perfected by the illustrious tea master Sen no Rikyu.  The tea ceremony captures the essence of Japanese aesthetics in architecture, ceramics, flower arranging, calligraphy, painting and gardening.  I have been a student of traditional Japanese tea ceremony for two years.  My interest in the tea ceremony developed from a fascination and intrigue with the Japanese and, in particular, the geisha culture.

Japanese tea ceremony, Chanoyu, is the serving and drinking of traditional ceremonial powdered green tea called matcha.  The ceremony has been passed down for centuries, starting with Buddhist monks and later becoming an initial part of samurai and geisha ritual training.

The four principles of tea are:

  • Wa, harmony – The feeling of oneness with nature and people and sensitivity to the changing of the seasons.
  • Kei, respect – The ability to understand, respect and humble ourselves to others, tea utensils and our daily lives.
  • Sei, purity – The ability to treat ourselves and others with a pure and open heart.  Cleanliness, order and simplicity in body and spirit leads to enlightenment.
  • Jaku, tranquility – The ability to create the sense of calm amidst chaos.

    Elaine Robinson performing as host for Buji no cha, the last tea of the year in December 2012
    Photo Credit: Lisa Hart, tea student

The essence and charm of the artful tea ceremony is rooted in simplicity:  Being in the quiet moment, boiling water, drinking tea and appreciating each other’s efforts and company with each movement

precise and beautifully executed.  Tea provides me with an escape from the everyday bustle and an opportunity for self-reflection and deepening human relations.  The peace and serenity I get in the tea room is what brought me to it and keeps me coming back for more mindful and rich experiences.  To quote a phrase from Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha, “Even now, I find tea ceremony as enjoyable as a good night’s sleep.”

To learn more about Japanese tea ceremony or to visit the tea room for a demonstration, contact snowflaketearoom@yahoo.comor call 330-310-9160.  It is a unique, memorable experience to participate in and watch, and we would love to have you as our guest at the Snowflake Tea Room in Stow.