“Tea … is a religion of the art of life.”
:Kakuzō Okakura, The Book Of Tea

The Beauty of Chado,
The reverence on show.
A presence of mind
and the tea that flows.

The here and the now.
Not the if, or the when.
A presence of mind.
The feeling of Zen.

A ceremony of appreciation.
A performance with care.
A moment in time.
Senses fully aware.

Ichi-go ichi-e
Treasure each moment.
Sen No Rikyu;
Japanese Tea Ceremony’s finest exponent.

A cup of tea is a sign,
of welcome and respect.
And it helps to unwind
with a calming effect.

It’s the first thing to have.
That essence and flavour,
when I return home;
to sit back and savour.

It’s a taste of the familiar.
A feeling long known.
It’s a feeling of family.
A feeling of home.

I’ve always loved a cup of tea.
It’s been an ever-present in our family.
And for as long as I can remember,
it’s the first thing I do whenever I get home.

So, when I heard about the Japanese Tea Ceremony,
I was intrigued.


Japanese Tea Ceremony

Tea was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks
in the eighth century, becoming popular during
the Muromachi period (1336-1573).
It developed as a “transformative practice”,
and began to evolve it’s own aesthetic
influenced by the principles of wabi-sabi.

Tea drinking evolved in to the Tea Ceremony;
known in Japan as Chado, Sado or Cha-no-yu.
And it seems there’s a lineage of three tea masters…

Jukō, Jōō and Rikyū

Initially under the attention,
and influence of Murata Jukõ;
who was known in Japanese cultural history as
the founder of the Tea Ceremony;
an early developer of tea
as a spiritual practice.

Jukō taught Taken Jōō,
who continued his master’s trend towards
simplicity and minimalism.

Jōō, in turn, taught Sen No Rikyu;
probably the most revered historical figure in tea.
Someone who,
by incorporating the philosophy of wabi-sabi,
had the most profound influence on the
Tea Ceremony.

Rikyu followed his masters concept of Ichi-go ichi-e;
a philosophy that each meeting should be treasured,
for it can never be reproduced.
And introduced four principles;
harmony, respect, purity and tranquility,
which are still central to tea.

“Who would then deny that 
when I am sipping tea in my tearoom 
I am swallowing the whole universe with it 
and that this very moment 
of my lifting the bowl to my lips 
is eternity itself transcending time and space?”
: Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki

Kanji characters for Chado; Way Of Tea.

The Effort Is The Ceremony

The tatami floor.
The zen phrase,
on the single scroll,
displayed in the alcove.
The single blossom Cabana,
leaning toward the guest
It’s not what you do,
it’s the detail you invest.

While I’ve never experienced
a Japanese Tea Ceremony,
(I’ll wait to visit Kyoto for that)
I love the sense of aesthetic appreciation,
and the sense of respect.
The attention to the presentation,
and the presence of mind
around who it revolves.

Akin to craftsmanship of any kind;
there’s a pride in the product.

You could say it’s only tea,
but the effort involved in making
and presenting the tea,
makes it something quite special.

An experience to cherish.

The effort is part of the gift.
It’s part of what makes it a Ceremony.
And what makes the experience worth it.

Title image; screenshot from Star Wars : The Last Jedi.

“Tea is magic key to the vault
where my brain is kept

: Frances Hardinge

Thank you for reading.

Have a beautiful night.

Anthony Stoker

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