Traditional Japanese pastimes: the tea ceremony
Japan is famous for the tea ceremony, a special occasion involving particular objects and rituals, which aims to create the illusion of separation from the everyday world. The host invites guests to a special room to share the enjoyment of tea and to appreciate prized tea utensils in a carefully cultivated atmosphere. It became popular among the military and wealthy urban classes during the sixteenth century, and by the 1580s participation was a standard requirement of social acceptability.
The green tea used in the ceremony is stored in a large jar in a cool place until it is needed. The tea is ground into a fine powder just before use, so that it does not lose flavour and become bitter. The powdered tea is kept in a small tea caddy with a tightly fitting lid.
The tea is placed in a tea bowl, hot water is added, and the mixture is whipped with a bamboo whisk. When the surface is slightly frothy, the tea is served to guests. Warmed rice wine called sake and seasonal food are also served from carefully selected vessels as part of the ritual. Tea ceremony objects are usually made of lacquer, ceramic, iron and bronze.