There are Two Types of Green Tea Used – Usucha and Koicha

Two types of green tea matcha can be used in a tea ceremony.  There are also two ways the matcha is prepared, depending on the formality of the gathering.  There is a thin tea that is called “usucha”, and a thick tea that is called, “koicha”.  (Click here to see the differences between Koicha and Usucha.)

During an usucha tea gathering, each guest is given an individual tea bowl.  In a koicha tea gathering, each guest shares from a single tea bowl. The sharing of the koicha tea bowl represents a shared unity of hearts and minds between the guests.

A Chanoyu Tea Ceremony is a Choreography of Purpose & Respect

There is much symbolism and many required steps for a tea ceremony.  The tea ceremony is about the sharing of each other and embodies great symbols of respect.

Preparation by the Host:

  • The host will send simple invitations to the guests
  • The host will prepare a meal (kaiseki) or sweets to be served with the tea
  • The host will focus on being in harmony with his/her spirit, removing all negativity
  • The host will clean the room
  • The host will place flowers simply in the room (tokonoma)
  • The host will place a special floor covering (tatami) on the floor
  • The host will announce guests are welcome and ready to be received into the tea room

Preparation by the Guests:

  • The guests will focus on harmony with his/her spirit and remove negativity from the heart
  • The guests will patiently wait outside the room (shoin) until welcomed by the host
  • The guests will ceremonially wash their hands to remove all dust and dirt from the world
  • The guests will enter the room when welcomed by the host
  • The guests will bow to the host as a sign of respect

Cleaning the Tea Ceremony Tools:

  • The host cleans the tea ware and tools in front of the guests with a graceful posture so that it is beautiful to watch
  • The host places the tea items in an artistic and beautiful fashion
  • All participants are silent, focused on the harmony and beauty of the choreography

Preparing the Matcha Green Tea:

  • The host prepares the tea by placing matcha into the bowl, adding to it a small amount of hot water
  • The host whisks the matcha and water with a soft bristle whisk to make a paste
  • The host adds more hot water to make the tea
  • The host serves the tea, as described below

Serving the Matcha Green Tea:

  • The host chooses the most beautiful side of the bowl, referred to as the “front”
  • The host passes the tea bowl, with the front facing toward the guest
  • The guest receives the tea bowl and admires its beauty
  • The guest turns or rotates the tea bowl so that the front faces the host (the guest never takes a sip from the front of the tea bowl)
  • If the tea bowl is to be shared, the guest wipes the rim and passes the bowl to the next guest in the same fashion, until all have partaken of the tea

Final Stage of a Chanoyu Tea Ceremony:

  • The host cleans and rinses the tea ware and utensils
  • The guests inspect the items as a symbol of respect to the host, examining the tea items with a soft cloth 
  • The guests return the tea items to the host
  • The host puts the tea items back in place aesthetically
  • The guests bow to the host and leave the room as a sign of respect to the host

The Tea Ceremony is Concluded.

To be concluded in Chanoyu: Tea and Ritual – Part 2

Photo “L’exposition “Fendre l’air. Art du bambou au Japon”” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Jean-Pierre Dalbéra and is being posted unaltered (source)