The Japanese tea ceremony is rich in symbolism and subtle meanings.
- Step 1: Examine the tea scoop and tea container as they are handed to you by the host. Tea bowls, scoops, and containers will typically have interesting histories. A discussion of these objects follows.
- FACT: Many of the aesthetic elements of the Japanese tea ceremony can be traced to the practice of the 16th-century tea master Rikyu.
- Step 2: Return to the bowl to the host when all of the guests have tasted the tea. The host will then rinse the bowl and clean the tea utensils.
- Step 3: Accept the tea bowl when it is passed to you, raise the bowl and admire it, drink some of the tea from the bowl, then wipe the rim with paper. Pass the bowl on to the next guest, who will repeat this process.
- TIP: Guests seat themselves on the straw mat floor of the tea room. They do not sit in chairs.
- Step 4: Remain seated as the host prepares the tea. This ritual includes adding green tea powder and hot water to a ceremonial tea bowl and whisking the mixture into a thin paste.
- Step 5: Enter the tea room, pausing to admire the flowers, teakettle and hearth on display. Seat yourself as you wait for the host to bring the tea ceremony utensils.