Tea was first brought to Japan by Japanese priests who had been studying Buddhism in China in 593 AD. It wasn’t until 1422- 1502 that Murata Shuko, a Zen priest, created the first ceremonial tea ritual; elevating it’s status to a spiritual art form, almost a religion. This ceremony is called Cha-no-yu, meaning “hot water tea” and celebrates the mundane aspects of everyday life.
According to Spacious Planet, the serving of tea in ceremony requires years of practice. Many traditional skills, besides the knowledge of tea, must be perfected such as incense, ikebana (flower arranging), kimono and shodou (calligraphy). For the host, the process of refining the tea ceremony is continual, one which may never reach perfection. Unfortunately, as with many traditions, the tea ceremony culture is changing in Japan.
In thinking about Japan this week, and as a tie into the twitter conversation #JapanLife (which allows us bloggers the opportunity to express a passion for Japanese culture, and help raise awareness & aid for the plight of the Japanese people) I chose tea as a point of focus because after water, it is the number one drink in the world! I came across this fact while researching the topic of tea and came across The Meaning of Tea®.
The Meaning of Tea® project is an ongoing, tea-inspired journey that celebrates the history, rituals, spirituality and simple pure enjoyment of tea through the eyes of tea lovers from many places around the world. Their vision is to utilize tea and tea-inspired film, music, books, conversation and ritual to open the hearts and minds of those who seek fresh insight into the art of living authentically in today’s increasingly virtual society.
I purchased the movie. Just watching the sweet clips from the film inspired me to make myself a lovely cup of tea! It is these rituals, the ability to pause in life and enjoy simplicity and the mundane that has served the Japanese people well and allowed them to face this tragedy with more grace and generosity to their fellow man then we are used to here in the west.
I live in the middle of wine country. We are fortunate that in my small town of Graton, literally one block and a corner long, we have a fabulous tea bar called Far West Trading Co. I always recommend it to visitors who need a break from, or are looking for an alternative to wine, but still enjoy the ritual of tasting, learning and experiencing the many different flavors of tea.
To be able to stop in the midst of a busy day to enjoy a cup of tea is a Little Bit of Beauty™, a way to slow down, focus on the here and now and just relax!
Are you a tea lover? What do you do that is ritualistic and helps you to slow down in your busy world? Leave a comment below, I always love to hear what works for you.
In the meantime,
Thanks for stopping by!