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?

DT Suzuki

Chadō, also known as sadō, the revered Japanese tea ceremony, has stood the test of time, surviving for over four centuries since its inception by the ruling samurai. It is among the trio of traditional art forms, alongside kadō, or flower arrangement, and kodō, the art of incense appreciation. The enduring appeal of this ceremony lies in its timeless principles, which remain as relevant today as they were in the past.

Tea drinking in Japan is not merely a way to quench one's thirst, but a deeply philosophical and meditative practice that draws inspiration from Zen Buddhism and Shintoism. It is a contemplation on the fundamental aspects of life, such as the fleeting nature of time and our transience on this earth. Moreover, it is a celebration of the sublime beauty of nature, skilled craftsmanship, interpersonal connections, gracious hospitality, and spiritual transcendence.

The Japanese tea ceremony offers an immersive experience, engaging all the senses to create a holistic and transformative moment that transcends the mundane. It is an excellent example of how a seemingly simple act, such as drinking tea, can have a profound impact on the mind, body, and spirit. 

Slow the f––k down. Be present.

There is saying in Japan that goes "ichi go ichi e," which speaks to the value of every single moment. This maxim, attributed to Sen no Rikyū, the master of the tea ceremony, emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment, treating each encounter as unique, and offering guests an unforgettable experience. These values are at the heart of Japanese tea culture.

When designing a traditional Japanese estate, the placement of the chashitsu, or tea house, is a crucial element, carefully thought out to ensure the tea room is separate from the main house where daily life occurs. The tea room is a sanctuary where time stands still and guests are invited to live in the moment, unencumbered by past problems or future uncertainties. The roji, or garden and path leading to the tea room, is composed of uneven stones, creating an environment that encourages guests to focus on their surroundings and prepares them to fully embrace the present.

While we may not all have the luxury of a tea house in our backyard, brewing a cup of tea can be a way to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and appreciate the present moment. Taking the time to prepare the perfect cup of tea allows us to slow down, savor the flavor, and reflect on the present.

So let's take a cue from the Japanese tea culture and make every moment count, cherishing the uniqueness of each encounter and fully immersing ourselves in the present.

Moments to be shared.

A Japanese tea ceremony is all about sharing moments in the presence of others. Everything is designed to be enjoyed by someone; its existence is fruitless without being in service. Beauty wants to be seen to come to its full expression.

There is a simplicity and depth to drinking tea - an everyday task represents so much more, it is a key to living life fully. It asks of us to appreciate the things that create this world, like the nuances of the flavours depending on the temperatures and brewing techniques, the subtle textures of the tea wares in our hands, the stories and efforts of the people behind the tea leaves, the enjoyment of meeting with friends and catching up.

As with anything, the enjoyment of great things are magnified when shared with others.

The four principals of sadō | The way of tea

“When you hear the splash
Of the water drops that fall Into the stone bowl
You will feel that all the dust
Of your mind is washed away.”

Sen no Rikyu

The Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu, has a rich history dating back to the 15th century, when it was founded by Shukō, a Buddhist monk. Originally used as a means to stay alert during long meditation sessions, the ceremony evolved into an occasion for friends to gather and appreciate the beauty of art and nature while sipping on a cup of tea. However, it was Sen no Rikyū in the 16th century who revolutionized the tea ceremony into the form it takes today. His rustic and simple approach, known as wabi cha, is based on four principles: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. Through these principles, the tea ceremony not only became a means of drinking tea, but also a celebration of Japanese culture and aesthetics.

Harmony 和

In Japan we hold the value of harmony in high regard, and it's evident in their deep respect for how their actions can impact others. This interconnectedness extends beyond human relationships and also includes nature and objects. The Japanese tea ceremony, for example, is a beautiful representation of this principle in action. The ritual is designed around the guest's enjoyment, with every aspect of the experience thoughtfully considered, from the tea ware to the decorations and even the sweets served. This attention to detail creates a sense of serenity and peace, and it's no wonder why the ceremony has become such a beloved part of Japanese culture.

Respect 敬

Here in Japan, respect is not just a verbal sentiment, but a codified sequence of actions that express admiration and deference. The revered tea ceremony is a quintessential example of such a ritual, where every move and gesture carries a message of appreciation. Unspoken codes of respect are conveyed by precise gestures, like the guest turning the bowl twice before sipping the tea, an act that reflects the bowl's most exquisite angle presented by the host. This ancient ceremony may seem dramatic to our modern eyes, but we can still adopt its principles in our daily routine.

Take a moment to enjoy your high-quality cup of tea, relish the beautiful teaware to create your own moment of mindfulness and gratitude.

Purity 純

In the Japanese Shintō tradition, purification of both body and mind is held in the highest regard. This same principle can be found in the Japanese tea ceremony, where guests are expected to cleanse their hands and mouth before entering the tea house. Additionally, the host performs a ceremonial cleaning of all tools used in the ceremony, creating an environment of pure intention and elevated thought. The quiet ritual of preparing matcha, the gentle sound of boiling water, and the beauty of the artful sweets served all come together to create a space of tranquility and untainted purity. The tea ceremony is a timeless practice that allows one to momentarily detach from the chaos of the outside world and find solace in the peacefulness of the present moment.

純 (sei) also means purity to be free from material attachments and status.

Tranquility 平静

Tranquillity, the crowning principle of the tea ceremony, is a serene state that is achieved through active stillness, informed by Zen Buddhism. It is believed that by constantly practicing the other three principles - harmony, respect, and purification - one can attain tranquillity as a natural consequence. This is why the preparation of tea is not just a simple task, but an extensive and ritualistic practice that requires one's full presence in the moment. The sound of boiling water, the smell of matcha powder, and the meticulously cleaned tea tools create a pure and tranquil space, removed from the messy world outside. With the resulting gifts of calm and serenity, we can become the best version of ourselves even amidst the chaos of modern life.