Introduction to Japanese Tea Culture

Tea was introduced to Japan in the eighth century by monks who studied Buddhism in China. At that time, tea had become a popular drink in China, and monks used it as a stimulant to stay awake during long periods of meditation. Historical records Saisho, the monk, was the first to bring customs back to Japan, so we have reason to believe that Japan’s interest in tea was awakened at this time. However; due to the tension between China and Japan, it was not until the end of the 12th century that Japan could truly be regarded as possessing a tea culture.

In 1191, Eisai (1141-1215), the founder of the Rinzai sect of Zen, brought some tea seeds back from the Chinese pilgrimage. He planted these seeds in the Hizen area of ​​northern Kyushu and the monastery in Hakata (Fukuoka). Eisai spread the idea that tea should be consumed for its medicinal properties. We would also like to thank the first Japanese book on tea published in 1211. In addition to seeds, he also introduced Japan and China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The tea leaves are ground into a fine powder (matcha) before brewing. The importance of the rtual and disciplined nature of Rinzai Zen’s philosophy undoubtedly had a significant impact on the evolution of the strict codification of Japanese tea ceremony.

Later some tea trees were planted mainly inland in Honshu near Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Originally cultivated by monks to stimulate them during meditation, tea was quickly adopted by intellectuals and politicians. In the 13th century, when the nobles gathered for tea during ceremonial gatherings, the samurai also became part of their way of life. The fashion of tea tasting competitions began as they were held in China during the same period. More and more lovers gathered together to test their ability to identify different Chinese teas day and night.

Later, the Japanese master of tea appeared on the scene. In the 16th century, one of them, Sen No Rikyu, codified the tea ceremony (chonoyu) and established a close relationship between Buddhist values ​​and the various schools of Japanese tea and Japanese tea sets of that era.

From 1641 to 1853, Japan remained isolated from the rest of the world. This is a quarantine policy, called sakoku, which prohibits anyone from leaving the archipelago and almost does not allow contact with the outside world. For more than 200 years, China has independently provided tea to the rest of the world. However, the isolation of Japan is not entirely negative, because in addition to promoting the development of the uniqueness of Japanese culture, it has also led to the improvement of new ways of tea. Therefore, in 1738, Soen Nagatani created a leaf method. Use steam for dehydration. Because this method brought out the fresh aroma of the leaves, he was able to create a green tea that was very different from Chinese green tea, and it quickly became popular.

In 1859, Japan abandoned its isolation policy and finally opened up the international market. It began to export tea overseas, mainly to the United States, which became the main source of income. At the end of the 19th century, the archipelago began to industrialize its production methods, especially the use of heated rotating cylinders invented by Kenzo Takahashi. At this time, black tea was also produced on Japanese soil.

In the years after the First World War, Japanese tea exports set an unprecedented record. At that time, Japan exported 22,003 tons of green tea and 11,178 tons of black tea. However, due to the explosive shortage of demand, Japan’s black tea exports also fell quickly.

As Americans began to prefer “British tasting” tea (strong black tea), it was difficult for the Japanese to compete with the large emerging growers in Sri Lanka, India, and Kenya, who could produce tea at very low cost. Faced with this competition, the Japanese market has gradually shifted to domestic distribution.

Some studies conducted by Japanese researchers in the 1920s revealed scientific evidence that tea contains vitamins and catechins. To promote tea sales, the government announced these results, encouraging Japanese people to drink it every day as an integral part of their diet. After the Second World War, various grower groups and associations continued to promote the benefits of tea, and various by-products based on tea began to appear. Later, in order to facilitate distribution, tea leaves were sold in tea bags, and a lot of attention was paid to packaging and display.

Since then, Japan has greatly increased productivity by using mechanical harvesting and adopting new technologies for felling. They are almost focused on the production of green tea.

Japanese traditional tea culture

“Tea Zen blindly”, “Peaceful peace” and “passed on from generation to generation” are the spirit of Japanese tea ceremony culture. It has its own formation, development and unique connotation. The Japanese tea ceremony must be carried out in accordance with a set of prescribed procedures. It is not only a social means, but mainly through tea parties and tea ceremony to achieve the purpose of cultivating character, self-cultivation and purifying the soul.

The origin of Japanese tea culture

Japanese tea ceremony is one of the most representative contents in Japanese traditional culture. The Japanese tea ceremony originated in China. After Chinese tea and tea culture were introduced to Japan, they were absorbed and merged to form a tea ceremony with unique Yamato national characteristics.

Japanese Tea Culture: The Fate of Zen Tea

Japanese tea ceremony is a tea-drinking activity that must be carried out in accordance with certain rules and procedures. The spirit of the tea ceremony is contained in these seemingly cumbersome tea drinking procedures. The red tape of Japanese tea ceremony is not to divert the attention of tea customers from the tea itself, but to concentrate on the whole process of drinking tea, so as to free people from worldly tensions and worries. The connotation of Zen in the tea ceremony is to hone people’s minds through cumbersome rules. When these rules no longer bore the tea drinker, and when the tea drinker complies with the rituals of the tea ceremony, he can understand the true meaning of tea.

Four Rules and Seven Rules of Japanese Tea Culture

The tea ceremony also pays attention to following the “four rules” and “seven rules”. The four rules refer to “harmony, respect, purity, and solitude”, which are the essence of the tea ceremony. “Harmony and respect” refers to the spirit, attitude and manners that should be possessed between the host and the guest. “Qing and Ji” mean that the tea room and tea garden should maintain a quiet and elegant environment and atmosphere. Seven refers to: prepare tea in advance, put charcoal in advance, the tea room should be warm in winter and cool in summer, indoor flower arrangement to maintain natural beauty, observe the time, prepare rain gear, and always keep guests at heart.

Japanese Gongfu Tea Drinking Art

Japanese tea ceremony has four rules of “harmony, respect, clearness, and solitude”; Gongfu tea ceremony is “harmony, respect, spirit, and joy”, and it should not be called “four rules”, but should be called “four interests”. Japanese tea ceremony has four rules of “harmony, respect, clearness, and solitude”; Gongfu tea ceremony is “harmony, respect, spirit, and joy”, and it should not be called “four rules”, but should be called “four interests”.

Japanese tea ceremony follows four rules and seven rules

The tea ceremony is a special etiquette for the Japanese to receive guests. The Japanese custom of drinking tea was first introduced from China and later became popular among the people. The Japanese tea ceremony includes the “last tea” ceremony and the “south tea” ceremony of Gongfu tea. Today, the tea ceremony population in Japan is about 10 million, which is nearly one-tenth of the total population of the country.


Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese tea ceremony follows four rules and seven rules

The tea ceremony in China and Japan is slightly different from ordinary tea drinking and tasting, but has a set of strict procedures and rules. Tea ceremony and tea tasting are very particular about places, usually in the tea room. Many formal teahouses have the elegant name “XX’an”. The tea rooms vary in size. Tea rooms with a size of “four-fold and a half” (approximately 9 square meters) are mostly used. Those smaller than four-fold and a half are called “xiaojian”, and those larger than four-fold and a half are called “guangjian”. The structure and furnishings of the tea room basically consist of a ceramic charcoal stove and a tea kettle in the middle. A tea bowl and various utensils are placed in front of the stove.

There are seats for the host and guests as well as a bed for the host to rest.The tea ceremony also pays attention to following the “four rules” and “seven rules”. The four rules refer to “harmony, respect, purity, and solitude”, which are the essence of the tea ceremony. “Harmony and respect” refers to the spirit, attitude and manners that should be possessed between the host and the guest. “Qing and Ji” mean that the tea room and tea garden should maintain a quiet and elegant environment and atmosphere. Seven refers to: prepare tea in advance, put charcoal in advance, the tea room should be warm in winter and cool in summer, indoor flower arrangement to maintain natural beauty, observe the time, prepare rain gear, and always keep guests at heart.

When receiving guests, after the guests are seated, the tea master presiding the ceremony will light charcoal fire, boil water, make tea or matcha according to the prescribed actions (use a bamboo teaspoon to stir the tea in the tea bowl into a foam shape according to certain actions), and then sequentially offered to the guests. According to regulations, guests must respectfully pick up the tea with both hands, thank you first, then turn to the tea bowl three times, light tasting, slow drinking, and return it. Ordering tea, brewing tea, brewing tea, and offering tea are the main parts of the tea ceremony and require specialized skills and training.


Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese tea ceremony follows four rules and seven rules

The Japanese tea ceremony has a tea offering room. In front of the tea room, there is a “mountain gate” in the form of a hut. After the entrance is a small garden, you can reach the tea room after walking through the flower path. The door is too short, and adults generally have to bow their heads to show respect when entering the house. In the tea room there are only: the stove on the ground, the iron kettle on the stove, a tongs holding charcoal, a simple calligraphy and painting, a bottle of strangely shaped flower arrangements, and no other decorations. You can’t speak loudly in the tea room, let alone talk and laugh. In short, what it requires is an atmosphere of “clearness and silence”.Tea ceremonies are divided into two forms: “round drinking” and “single drinking”. Rotary drinking is where guests take turns to taste a bowl of tea, and single drinking is a bowl of tea for each guest. After drinking tea, according to the custom, the guests should appreciate and praise the various tea sets. Finally, the guests bow and bide farewell to the host, and the host sends them off warmly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *