Chado Tea

By mong at


Chado, or Chanoyu and Ocha as the Japanese call it, is a traditional Japanese cultural activity that involves the ritualistic preparation and presentation of powdered green tea.

In the late 12th century, Eisai, a Zen monk, brought back tea seeds from his travels overseas. He began to promote the drinking of tea as both a medicine and as a stimulant for long meditation. Afterwards the consumption of tea and reutilisation in the manner of serving it was seen in temples for a long time. It was in the late 16th century that Rikya refined the concept and practice of rustic simplicity in tea ceremony.


Generally there were basic rules to abide by when applying Cado in everyday life.

7 Rules of Chado

1. Make a satisfying bowl of tea

2. Lay the charcoal so that the water boils efficiently

3. Provide a sense of warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer

4. Arrange the flowers as though they are in the field

5. Be ready ahead of time

6. Be prepared in case it should rain

7. Act with utmost consideration towards guests


Furthermore there are several principles of Japanese Tea Ceremony;

和 WA: Harmony - with nature as a whole

敬 KEI: Respect - for each other

静 SEI: Purity - of utensils and mind

寂 JAKU: Tranquility - with nature and mind

There are several variables in a traditional tea ceremony, but commonly the guests will wash their mouths and hands and remove their shoes before entering the room for the ceremony. Food may be served first. The host lights a charcoal fire to heat water and cleans the tea tools. Then the host mixes the powdered tea and water with a bamboo whisk. These movements are all ritualised, and to fully enter into the ceremony the guests should be paying attention. Guests sip tea from a single bowl, which is passed among them according to ritual. When to bow, when to speak, how to handle the bowl -- all follow precise forms. When participants are fully engaged, the ritual evokes great peace and great clarity, a non-dualistic consciousness and a deep intimacy with oneself and the others present.

Before the tea ceremony Japanese sweets may be shared to counterbalance the anticipated bitter taste of tea. The general term for these sweets is Kashi ( 菓子). More specifically Omogashi and Higashi are just two of the types of traditional Japanese sweets found at tea ceremonies.

The entire process is not all about drinking tea, but also about preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony should always consider their guest with every movement and gesture. Even the placement of all tea utensils should be considered from the point of view of guests, especially the main guests called Shokyaku.

It is believed by many that Chado cannot simply be learnt from books or the Internet but must be taught from a teacher. This lesson with a teacher is known as Keiko ( 稽古).


Rose Nguyen