The Japanese Tea Ceremony or Chanoyu combines the elements of Japanese philosophy with artistic beauty and interweaves four principles - harmony (with people and nature), respect (for others), purity (of heart and mind), and tranquility. Chanoyu literally means hot water for tea and the focus of this ceremony is the preparation and serving of a bowl of tea. The tea master Sen Rikyu developed this style of tea that reflects a simple and quiet taste which grew from the custom of Zen Buddhist monks who drank tea from a single bronze bowl in front of a statue of Budhidharma during their act of worship. Because this ceremony involves a complex combination of sensual and spiritual elements, the training to become a Tea Master is a lifetime work and requires complete commitment.
The ceremony involves a full tea, Chaji, consisting of a three course meal and the serving of two different types of tea which can take four hours. However, simpler teas can be served to suit individual occasions such as honoring special guests or simply gathering together friends. Traditionally, the ceremony took place in a designed and designated room, the chashitsu, in the tea house within a private garden, but today it may be performed in a designated room in the home, the workplace or a public tea house also.
When guests (four is the preferred number) arrive, they are not greeted by their host, but are guided to a waiting room for a small porcelain cup of hot water as a foretaste of the tea to come. They then make their way calmly and quietly into the garden which represents the breaking of ties with the everyday world and are met halfway at a gate and greeted by the host only with a bow. The guests pause to cleanse their hands and mouth with water from a stone basin. The entrance to the tea house is so low that all who enter must bow their heads - a symbolic gesture of humility. A meal, chakaiseki, of fine foods and saki is served, not as the main event but as preparation for the tea. After eating, the guests step back outside into the garden while the tea room is swept and more than thirteen items are prepared for the tea brewing. During the day a gong is sounded or in evening a bell to summon the guests back to the tea house. The guests once again purify their hands and mouths and re-enter. The host enters and begins preparation of the tea by lifting the tea scoop (chashaku) and container (chaire), then placing three scoops of tea per guest into the tea bowl (chawan) and ladling in enough hot water to create a thin paste with a whisk (chasen). Additional water is whisked it to create a thick liquid. The host passes the tea bowl to the main guest, who bows in accepting it, then raises and rotates the bowl before drinking some of the tea, wiping the rim and passing it to the next guest. When all the guests have tasted the tea, the second tea is prepared that will rinse the palate and symbolically prepare the guests for leaving the spiritual world and reentering the physical world. Decorative individual bowls of the thin watery tea (usa cha) are prepared and served with dry sweets (higashi). At the conclusion, the guests express their appreciation for the tea and admiration for the art of the host then leave as the host watches from the door of the tea house.
TEA TIME TRIVIA
Matcha, the powdered green tea
used in a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony,
is ground from the soft inner Gyokuro leaf,
with stems and leaf veins removed
JAPANESE TEA SWEET
2 large grapefruit
juice of a lemon
1lb granulated sugar
Wash and dry grapefruit skin then remove in 1” strips without fruit. Soak in cold water overnight. Drain, place in pan and cover with fresh water. Bring to boil, then simmer 10 mins. Drain, add fresh water and repeat until skin is tender, 15-30 mins. Drain again, add fresh water just to cover then add 14oz sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to low temperature and cook until thick. Add juice of 1 lemon and continue to cook again until thick. Remove peel from pan and cool on wire rack. Cut into 1” pieces, roll in sugar and place on waxed paper. Repeat in one hour then let dry a couple hours and store in an airtight container.
JAPANESE TEMPURA APPETIZERS
Basic Steps for Cooking Tempura:
1. Prepare the ingredients by cutting into 3/4" thickness:
Shrimp/Green pepper/Eggplant/Sweet potato/Carrot/Shitake
Mushrooms or Bananas
2. Make tempura batter:
Beat 1 egg in a bowl, then add 1 cup ice water. Add 1 cup
all-purpose four and mix lightly. DO NOT OVERMIX
3. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan to 340-350F degrees
4. Lightly dip ingredients in the batter and immediately fry them until
brown. It takes longer to cook vegetables than seafood or bananas.
5. Drain tempura on a rack
6. Serve right away with tempura dipping sauce.
Tempura is best served hot.
“A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”