The tea ceremony involves preparing powdered tea for guests according to custom and enjoying its austere taste quietly and serenely. Influenced by Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony seeks to purify the mind and attain oneness with nature.
The ceremonial serving of tea used to be exclusively practiced by nobles and priests who gave it its original form around the middle of the fourteenth century. Its popularity gradually spread to wealthy merchants, warlords during the era of civil warfare (in the 15th and 16th centuries), and their retainers.
The tea ceremony has been modified in many ways over the years. Until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868) it was practiced almost entirely by men; women joined in only after the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912).
There are many schools of tea ceremony, including the three Senke schools of Ura, Omote, and Mushanokoji. They all uphold the spirit of the ceremony while observing their own distinctive styles of preparing and serving tea.
Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs