Everything about Tea

Special climatic conditions and highly developed methods of tea cultivation. An evergreen plant of the Camellia family. Stories about the origins of tea. Chinese Tea Ceremony. Japanese Ceremony (Chaji). A brief history of chanoyu. Russian Tea Ceremonies.

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National Academy of the State Border Service of Ukraine


Everything about Tea

Khmelnitsky, 2005


Tea has been one of the daily necessities in China since time immemorial. Countless numbers of people like to have their after meal tea.

In summer or warm climate, tea seems to dispel the heat and bring on instant cool together with a feeling of relaxation. For this reason, tea-houses abound in towns and market villages in South China and provide elderly retirees with the locales to meet and chat over a cup of tea.

Medically, the tea leaf contains a number of chemicals, of which 20-30% is tannic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory and germicidal properties. It also contains an alkaloid (5%, mainly caffeine), a stimulant for the nerve centre and the process of metabolism. Tea with the aromatics in it may help resolve meat and fat and thus promote digestion. It is, therefore, of special importance to people who live mainly on meat, like many of the ethnic minorities in China. A popular proverb among them says, "Rather go without salt for three days than without tea for a single day."

Tea is also rich in various vitamins and, for smokers, it helps to discharge nicotine out of the system. After wining, strong tea may prove to be a sobering pick-me-up.

The above, however, does not go to say that the stronger the tea, the more advantages it will yield. Too much tannic acid will affect the secretion of the gastric juice, irritate the membrane of the stomach and cause indigestion or constipation. Strong tea taken just before bedtime will give rise to occasional insomnia. Constant drinking of over-strong tea may induce heart and blood-pressure disorders in some people, reduce the milk of a breast-feeding mother, and put a brown color on the teeth of young people. But it is not difficult to ward off these undesirable effects: just don't make your tea too strong.

Base part:Everything about tea

Tea originCamellia sinensis

Although it is hard to believe, nobody knows for sure the origin of black tea. It is known that the first tea ever was green and that, in spite of ancient tea customs, black tea did not exist until as late as 780 BC. It is assumed that black tea came from China and it is probable that it was created while fermenting green tea in the search for new and refined variations. It remained, however, of little importance until it was rediscovered and cultivated in India.

Tea is much like wine. The method of production, when it is harvested and the shape of the leaf all contribute to give tea its characteristic flavour. Soil and climate also help to form its character. Exquisite teas are grown where both special climatic conditions and highly developed methods of cultivation meet.

These days with the trend to fitness and wellness the demand for natural beverages to refresh body and soul is growing. But these infusions have a long tradition as well. The Chinese emperor Chen Nung not only discovered green tea, he also is considered the father of pharmacology. Nearly 3'000 years ago he analysed the effects of 360 medicinal herbs, and from this time on herbal infusions became popular.

Tea is an evergreenplant of the Camellia family. It has smooth, shiny pointed leaves which look similar to the privet hedge leaf found in British gardens. Camellia sinensis is indigenous to China and parts of India. The wild tea plant can develop into a tree 30 metres high, so that monkeys were trained to pick the leaves and throw them down for collection below. Today, under cultivation, Camellia Sinensis is kept to a height of approximately one metre for easy plucking purposes. To produce tea on a commercial scale, saplings are planted close to each other and repeatedly pruned or clipped to induct a luxuriant leaf- growth sideways as well as to avoid blossoming. The saplings take three to seven years to mature into bushes and if well- cultivated, yield leaf prolifically for as long as a century. The height of tea bushes is rarely allowed to exceed 100 cm and their number per hectare ranges between 4,000 to 15,000. A hectare can yield anywhere between 800 to 4,000 kgs annually. The Indian average yield per hectare in 1998 was 1996 kgs. To make one kg of tea requires 4.5 kgs of tender green leaves. There are more than 1,500 teas to choose from more than 25 different tea producing countries around the world but the main producers are India, China,Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Indonesia. It is cultivated as a plantation crop, likes acidic soil and a warm climate with at least 50 inches of rain per annum.

There are many other stories about the origins of tea and how it found its way into our cup of boiling water. But the wonderful fact is we did not discover tea, "tu", "cha" or "tay," but that it discovered us through our openness and willingness to take in its beautiful offerings. Whether it was a Buddhist monk, an Emperor or a cultivator of the times, tea was-and still is-used to nurture the body and uplift the soul.

China enjoyed tea for centuries before it was introduced to the outside world through trade. It is believed that the Turkish Empire got its first taste of this wonderful commodity from a barter trade. Tea also made its way to Europe via the Portuguese outpost in Macau. And, most people know that tea came to America with the early British settlers. Now in the 21st Century, tea is enjoyed even in the most remote corners of the

Although tea is consumed everywhere, it is produced only in certain regions where the climate and the soil are ideal. The foremost tea regions are in China, Japan, Taiwan, India and Sri Lanka. China and Japan produce some of the finest green tea in the world. Taiwan has some of the best oolongs. India and Sri Lanka are the home of some of the best black tea found anywhere.

Legends about tea

Tea has played a role in almost all cultures and customs. There are several stories woven around the origins of the Tea Plant.

Here we narrate a few ....

Legend ascribes the creation of the tea plant to Daruma or Bodhidharma - the founder of Zen Buddhism. Centuries ago, while meditating near Nanking, in China, the saint fell asleep. On waking up, he was so angry with himself for falling asleep that he cut off his eyelids. Where the eyelids dropped to earth, a strange plant came up. Its leaves were found to give a brew that could banish sleep. And so the tea plant was born and the tea beverage came into being.

Another version of the Chinese legend.... Shen Nung, an early emperor was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron of the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the near by bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. And so tea was created.

Another story explains how the Indian Monk, Bodhidharma, sailed to China and went into a nine-year meditation. During this "Zen experience," he began to dose off and closed his eyes for a moment. He instantly cut off his eyelids to avoid sleeping, and where they fell to the ground a tea bush sprouted from the earth. And so the plant found another home with Buddhists in their meditation, helping them to stay awake and to maintain a high level of alertness and concentration.

Tea ceremonies

The art of drinking and serving tea plays a major cultural role in China. It inspires poetry and songs. Mutual love of tea cements lifelong friendships. For centuries, the ritual of preparing and serving tea has held a special place in the hearts and minds of Chinese aristocracy, court officials, intellectuals and poets. The Chinese tea ceremony emphasizes the tea, rather than the ceremony -- what the tea tastes like, smells like, and how one tea tastes compared to the previous tea, or in successive rounds of drinking. Ceremony doesn't mean that each server will perform the ritual the same way; it is not related to religion. Each step is meant to be a sensory exploration and appreciation. Most teas used in the Chinese tea ceremony are grown in the mountains of Taiwan at around 4,000 feet. These teas are particularly refined, such as oolong teas which are lightly fermented and red teas that can be moderately to heavily fermented. This style of tea-drinking uses small cups to match the small, unglazed clay teapots; each cup is just large enough to hold about two small swallows of tea. These tiny cups are particularly popular in Fujian and Chiujao, in southern coastal China above Canton. In Shanghai and Beijing they use large cups. To Brew Tea Chinese-styleю After heating water to boiling, the teapot first is rinsed with hot water. Using chopsticks or a bamboo tea scoop, fill teapot approximately 1/3 full with tea leaves and then pour boiling water into the pot. Hold the teapot over a large bowl, letting the overflow run into the bowl. Give the tea leaves a rinse by filling the pot half full with hot water, then draining the water out immediately, leaving only the soaked tea leaves. Now fill the pot to the top with more hot water, cover and pour additional water over the teapot resting in the tea bowl. Do not allow bubbles to form in the pot. When mixed with the tea, bubbles form a foam that is not aesthetically pleasing. Be sure to not let the tea steep too long; the first infusion should be steeped for only 30 seconds. In less than a minute, pour the tea into the cups by moving the teapot around in a continual motion over the cups so that they are filled together. Each cup should taste exactly the same. After steeping, the tea can be poured into a second teapot or tea pitcher to be served at leisure. More water can be added to the teapot, and up to five infusions typically can be made from the same tea leaves. Be sure to add 10 more seconds for the second brewing and 15 additional seconds thereafter. Each pot of tea serves three to four rounds and up to five or six, depending on the tea and the server. The goal is that each round taste the same as the first. Creating consistent flavor is where the mastery of the server is seen. Importance of Water. The water used in the tea ceremony is as important as the tea itself. Chlorine and fluoride in tap water should be filtered out as they harm the flavor of the tea. Distilled water makes flat tea and should be avoided. High mineral content in the water brings out the richness and sweetness of green tea. Black teas taste better when made with water containing less Volvic. Ideal tea water should have an alkaline pH around 7.9. Green teas are ruined by boiling water; the temperature is best around 170-185 degrees F. Oolongs made with underboiled water are more fragrant, which enhances the tea-drinking experience. China's Tea Culture

People throughout China drink tea daily. Because of the geographic location and climate, different places grow various kinds of tea. In general, there are five kinds of tea classified according to different technique involved in the making of tea: 

· Green tea - Longjin

· Wulong

· Scented tea - Jasmine tea

· Black tea

· compressed tea.

In the past dynasties, people not only formed a special way of tea-drinking, but also developed an art form called tea-drinking. This art form comprises of many aspects. The most noticeable ones are the making of tea, the way of brewing, the drinking utensils such as tea pot. The art of making tea is called "Cha dao", which was soon accepted as one of the most important cultures that Japan learned from China.

In Hangzhou, there is a tea museum, the only national museum of its kind, in which there are detailed description of the historic development of tea culture in China.

Preparing for the Ceremony Tea was first introduced to Japan from China with Buddhism in the sixth century. It wasn't until 1191 that tea really took hold in Japan with the return from China of the Zen priest Eisai (1141-1215). Eisai, the founder of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism in Japan, introduced powdered tea and tea seeds that he brought back with him from China. The tea seeds were planted by his friend the priest Myoe (1173-1232) at the Kozanji temple in the hills northwest of Kyoto.

The tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) developed WABICHA or the style of tea that reflects a simple and quiet taste. It is this simple style of tea that is practiced and taught in Japan and throughout the world today.

The principles of Wa Kei Sei Jaku (harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity) are the principles that practitioners of Chanoyu integrate into their study of tea and into their daily lives.

Among the many styles of Chanoyu that are practice today, the Urasenke School of Tea, under the leadership of Sen Soshitsu XVI, the sixteenth descendent of Sen Rikyu, is one of the most popular. For the past forty years Sen Genshitsu, his father and past head tea master, has traveled around the world introducing Chanoyu to many people for the first time. He believes that when people come together and share a bowl of tea, peace can be realized.

Sen Rikyu said that tea is nothing more than boiling water, making tea and drinking it. It is this simplicity that makes the study of Chanoyu a lifelong pursuit.

A Brief History of Chanoyu

The custom of drinking tea was prevalent in China before the time of Christ.

Tea was first imported from China as a beverage and over the course of several hundred years was developed into the art of Chanoyu from which developed Chado. The study of tea is effective in teaching discipline and instilling respect for others.

The Japanese created a unique way of life by elevating the mundane practice of drinking tea to a spiritual discipline. Especially after the contact with Zen, The Way of Tea was strengthened because the spirit of Tea and Zen became to be seen as one and the same. Peace, respect, purity, and tranquility are the four precepts of Chanoyu.

Japanese people and has had a great influence on Japanese culture .

Dancha In China, the custom of drinking tea was already popular in the T'ang Dynasty (618 -907 ). In the Heian period (794-1185) tea was brought back from China by priests like Saicho and Kukai and was enjoyed by the nobles around Emperor Saga who was the first patron of tea.

At this time, tea was called dancha, a brick-like ball of fermented tea leaves. Since this type of tea did not taste good, people gradually lost interest. Also the kentoshi, system of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, was abolished in 894. Further contributing to the decline of interest.

Eisai Eisai (ll41-1215), who studied in China and founded the Zen sect in Japan, brought back tea seeds and the Chinese etiquette of tea presentation. He presented tea and his book the Kissa Yojoki ( The medicinal Benefits of Tea Drinking ), to the Shogun Minamoto Sanetomo (1214 ). He wrote, "Tea is a medicine which cures diseases and promotes long life."

Togano-o Tea Myo-e of the Kozan-ji temple in northeast Kyoto was given tea seeds by Eisai. He cultivated tea there in Togano-o and produced excellent crops because of the conducive climate. This was the origin of Togano-o cha.

Later, tea plants were transplanted to Uji in the Yamashiro area, south of Kyoto. This was the origin of Uji-cha. Thereafter, tea plantations spread to many places throughout the archipelago.

Zen and Chanoyu Myo-e, a close friend of Eisai, promoted the drinking of powdered tea leaves as an aid to longevity and health as well as an ascetic aid to his Zen training. Tea and Zen became inseparable.

Dogen (1200-1253) introduced the Soto Zen school of gradual enlightenment from China. Tea was integrated as part of the formalized, daily routine of this religious training. The ancient rituals of Yotsugashira at Kennin-ji temple is important because it preserves this historic form of tea.

Eison who founded Saidai-ji temple in Nara, always served tea to the public when he gave his sermons.

Thus the diffusion of tea-drinking accompanied the propagation of Buddhism, especially by the priests of the Zen sect.

Tocha Tocha was a betting game consisting of drinking many varieties of tea and guessing which one was from Togano-o. The participants received prizes according to the number of correct guesses. Tocha was also called Juppuku-cha (ten cups of tea) or Gojuppuku-cha (fifty cups of tea), because each person took many sips.

Tocha gatherings were held upstairs in a room called kissa-no-tei. The host was called Teishu. Even now people use the name teishu for the host of a tea gathering.

Little by little, the custom of tea gatherings spread to the common people .

Ippuku issen Tea for Ippuku issen, a bowl of tea for one sen, the cheapest coin at the time, was popularized by venders with tea stalls in public places. In Kyoto, around the great southern gate of To-ji temple and during the Gion festival, tea venders' stalls were thronged with customers. By the beginning of the fifteenth century, such stalls had become a familiar part of Kyoto life. This was known as Unkyakucha, a low grade, poor tasting variety.

Higashiyama Era By the end of the Muromachi period, uniquely Japanese art and culture began to flourish. This period, a high point in Japanese culture, is known as the Higashiyama Era. This cultural efflorescence was centered at Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion. Chanoyu and flower arranging date from this period.

Shogun Yoshimasa used the room called Dojinsai in the Togudo building at Ginkaku-ji, for the enjoyment of tea.

Chinese Tea Caddy

Then, the main stream of tea was very formalized centering upon karamono (Chinese utensils) and procedures. It has come to be known as Denchu chanoyu.

Originally tea became popular because it aided the relationships formed among the people. But when people started using Chinese utensils, instead of focusing on personal relationships, they focused instead on the utensils creating a "tea for utensils sake".

Utensil connoisseurs appeared called Doboshu, who advised the nobles and the Shogun. Distinguished by the suffixChinese Tea Bowl Ami in their names, their opinions were much in demand. Noami, one of the Doboshu, established the shoin no Chinese Tea Bowl daisu kazari, rules for the use of the Daisu in a formal reception room. The Daisu stand was originally a board used by Zen priests to place utensils upon.

Murata Shuko It remained for Murata Shuko (1423-1502) to set tea free from the excessive display of utensils. He united tea and spirituality and introduced it to the common people. With him, the history of the Way of Tea started.

Shuko took his Zen training under Ikkyu at Shinjuan in Daitoku-ji temple, Kyoto. Here he realized that Tea and Zen were, in essence, the same. He emphasized the spirit and mind of the person making tea instead of the form.

When Shogun Yoshimasa asked Shuko for his definition of tea, he replied: "Tea is not a game and not an art; one taste of tea refreshes and purifies and gives enlightenment to the universal law."

Later, Shuko was presented with a calligraphic scroll done by the Chinese sage Yuan Wu. It is said that he hung this scroll in his tearoom. Under his influence tea people began going to temples to meditate.

Shuko preferred the atmosphere and intimacy of a small room where the people could communicate through the medium of tea. He divided a large formal-style Shoin room with a screen and partitioned off a four and a half mat area. This is the reason that a tearoom is called kakoi, partition. Later, he created a small grass-thatched hut for tea but died before realizing his ideal of Wabi-cha.

Takeno Jo-o The mercantile city of Sakai, with its steady inflow of novel imports and ideas, was important in the development of tea along with Kyoto and Nara. Sarugaku and Yokyoku were elegant entertainment enjoyed by many people at this time.

Shigaraki Flower Container

Three famous tea masters were citizens of Sakai. They were Takeno Jo-o (1502-1555), Imai Sokyu (1520-1593), and Sen Rikyu (1522-1591).

The Way of Tea was initiated by Sokyu, carried on by Jo-o and accomplished by Rikyu.

Jo-o used pottery bowls and jars from Shigaraki, Seto or Bizen instead of tea utensils made in China. It was Jo-o who continued the ideal of Wabi established by Shuko.

Rikyu Rikyu, who accomplished Wabi-cha, was born in Sakai in 1522. His first name was Yoshiro when he began his study of tea at an early age. His first teacher was Kitamuki Dochin who taught tea in the style suited to the shoin reception room. Later, he learned from Jo-o in the style of the small, thatched tea house.

Daitoku-ji temple in northwest Kyoto, has had a long, deep relation with tea. Rikyu, like Shuko and Jo-o underwent Zen training at Daitoku-ji. Thereafter Rikyu changed hisname from Yoshiro to Sen Soeki taking the family name of Sen from his grandfather`s name, Sen-ami.

It was then that Rikyu composed the poem which dates from that time : " Though many people drink tea, if you do not know the Way of Tea, tea will drink you up." Without any spiritual training, you think you are drinking tea, but actually tea drinks you up.

Another well-known saying of Rikyu is: "The Way of Tea is naught but this: first you boil water, then you make the tea and drink it." However, this can only be appreciated after strict training in the Way.

It was Rikyu who synthesized a unique way of life combining the everyday aspects of living with the highest spiritual and philosophical tenets. This has been passed down to the present as the Way of Tea.

From the age of 58, he served the Shogun, Oda Nobunaga. After the death of Nobunaga, he became the tea master of the Shogun Hideyoshi, the man who unified Japan for the first time in history. Ostensibly, in charge of tea, he actually wielded great influence with Hideyoshi in other matters as well.

When Hideyoshi hosted a tea at the Imperial Palace in 1585, Rikyu received the Buddhist titleof koji from the Emperor Ogimachi, thus establishing his preminence among the practitioners of tea in Japan.

Chanoyu and Christianity During this time, Chanoyu came into contact with Christianity. Many missionaries came to Sakai and Kyoto where they befriended Rikyu and the other teachers of tea.

Among the seven principle students of Rikyu were three devout Christians: Furuta Oribe, Takayama Ukon, and Gamou Ujisato.

Rikyu's extraordinary sense of beauty left a great imprint on the world of ceramics, architecture, design and the myriad arts and crafts that are combined to create the world of tea.

Wabi-cha In the later years of his life, Rikyu realized and practiced his ideal of Wabi-cha. With superb discrimination, he chose objects for use in the tearoom from among everyday utensils.

This revolutionary movement away from the reliance on imported Chinese utensils, begun byJo-o, was continued by Rikyu. So excellent were his choices, they are still used as standards to this day.

It was Rikyu who instructed the Korean tile-maker Chojiro to create the novel tea bowls which have come to be known as Raku.

Rikyu's innovative architectural design and exemplary use of space are vividly displayed inhis tea house Taian, at Myokian, near Kyoto. The Japanese government has declared it a National Treasure. There is the whole world of Rikyu, in a two-mat tea house.

Kitano Shrine Great Tea Gathering As Rikyu neared the fulfillment of his tea, the Great Tea Gathering was held at Kitano Shrine in northwest Kyoto in October of 1587.

Raku Tea Bowl

Hideyoshi proclaimed that rich or poor, high or low born might bring one pot for hot water and one bowl for tea, and attend the gathering . Over a thousand people from all walks of life assembled at the shrine. Hideyoshi erected a solid gold tea house while Rikyu used his preferred thatched hut. Thus both extremes of tea, the flamboyant utensil -tea, and the restrained wabi tea were represented at Kitano. At this time, Hideyoshi and Rikyu were very close.

"I rise the sword... "

Though there is some disagreement about the actual cause, Rikyu fell out of favor with Hideyoshi. Some say that Rikyu's statue being insetled in the gate Daitoku-ji Temple of Daitoku-ji, the building of which he contributed to, so angered Hideyoshi that Rikyu was ordered to commit ritual suicide at the age of 71 in 1591.

After bidding family and disciples good-bye, he composed his death poems, one in Chinese and one in Japanese.

" I raise the sword, This sword of mine, Long in my possession The time is come at last. Skyward I throw it up!" (translation: Suzuki Daisetsu)

And died. After Rikyu's death, Hideyoshi repented, regretting the loss of such a great person.

Following Rikyu`s Path

Though the family had been scattered and were in hiding in the residences of various generals , his son Shoan and grandson Sotan, succeeded in reestablishing the family name and reassembling their possessions. They began their task by rebuilding the Zangetsutei and Fushinan tea houses at Ogawa Teranouchi in Kyoto, the present day sites of Omotesenke and Urasenke. Soon after, Shoan retired and Sotan became head of the family. Though he was asked repeatedly to work for various lords, he refused, citing his commitment to wabi tea and to the common people.

Upon Sotan`s retirement, he divided the family property among three of his sons. To his third son, Koshin Sosa, he gave Fushinan. This branch is now known as Omotesenke. To his fourth son, Sen Soshitsu, he gave the back part of the property encompassing the tea houses Kan-untei, Yuin and Konnichian. This branch is now known as KonnichianUrasenke.

His second son, Ichio Soshu left the family house early in his life and built a house at Mushanokoji. This family is now known as Mushanokojisenke.

At the beginning of the Meiji period in the 1870`s, the 11th generation Urasenke Grand Tea Master, Gengensai Soshitsu, created the ryurei style of tea using tables and chairs for the first time, thus establishing a more modern tea etiquette.

Other tea families incorporated this style into their own tradition and passed it on to succeeding generations.

Urasenke The 13th generation Grand Tea Master, Ennosai Soshitsu, established tea courses in the schools. Thus enabling women to participate in tea for the first time.

The 14th generation Grand Tea Master Tantansai Soshitsu, established chapters throughout Japan.

The present Grand Tea Master, Hounsai Soshitsu, has established Urasenke chapters in manycountries throughout the world. The Urasenke Way of Tea has become international .

Now many people from all over the world come to Urasenke in Kyoto, to master the Way of Tea. With ever increasing numbers of people experiencing tea, the hope that individual and collective peacecan be achieved through the making and sharing a bowl of tea comes closer.

It has been the dream of the present Grand Tea Master Hounsai to show as many people as possible, all over the world, that peacefulness can be found through a bowl of tea

Chaji is a full tea presentation with a meal. As in virtually every tea ceremony, the host may spend days going over minutiae to insure that this ceremony will be perfect. Through tea, recognition is given that every human encounter is a singular occasion which can, and will, never recur again exactly. Thus every aspect of tea must be savored for what it gives the participants. The ceremony takes place in a room designed and designated for tea. It is called the chashitsu. Usually this room is within the tea house, located away from the residence, in the garden. The guests (four is the preferred number) are shown into the machiai (waiting room). Here, the hanto (assistant to the host) offers them sayu (the hot water which will be used to make tea). While here, the guests choose one of their group to act as the main guest. The hanto then leads the guests, main guest directly behind, to a water sprinkled garden devoid of flowers. It is called roji (dew ground). Here the guests rid themselves of the dust of the world. They then seat themselves on the koshikake machiai (waiting bench), anticipating the approach of the host who has the official title teishu (house master). Just before receiving the guests, the teishu fills the tsukubai (stone basin), which is set among low stones with fresh water. Taking a ladle of water the teishu purifies his hands and mouth then proceeds through the chumon (middle gate) to welcome his guests with a bow. No words are spoken. The teishu leads the hanto, the main guest and the others (in that order) through the chumon which symbolizes door between the coarse physical world and the spiritual world of tea. The guests and hanto purify themselves at the tsukubai and enter the teahouse. The sliding door is only thirty six inches high. Thus all who enter must bow their heads and crouch. This door points to the reality that all are equal in tea, irrespective of status or social position. The last person in latches the door

Inside the Teahouse

The room is devoid of any decoration except for an alcove called a tokonoma. Hanging in the alcove is a kakemono (scroll painting), carefully selected by the host, which reveals the theme of the ceremony. The Buddhist scripture on the scroll is by a master and is called bokuseki (ink traces). Each guest admires the scroll in turn, then examines the kama (kettle) and hearth (furo for the portable type and ro for the type set into the floor in winter to provide warmth), which were laid just before they were greeted by the host. They then are seated according to their respective positions in the ceremony. The host seats himself and greetings are exchanged, first between the host and principle guest, then the host and other guests. A charcoal fire is then built if it is ro season and after the meal if it is furo season. In ro season kneaded incense is put in the fire and sandalwood incense in the furo season.

The Meal

Each guest is served a meal called chakaiseki. Served on a tray with fresh cedar chopsticks, the meal consists of three courses. On the tray is cooked white rice in a ceramic bowl which will be eaten with other dishes, miso soup which is served in covered lacquer bowls and raw fish, plain or pickled, or pickled vegetables in a ceramic dish. Sake is served. The first course is called hashiarai (rinsing the chopsticks). Nimono (foods simmered in broth) in separate covered lacquer dishes. Yakimono (grilled foods) are served in individual portions on ceramic plates. Additional rice and soup is offered each guest. At this course the host may eat, if he chooses. The palate is then cleared with kosuimono, a simple clear broth served in covered lacquer bowls. The next course derives its name from the Shinto reverence of nature. It is called hassun which is also the name for the simple wooden tray that is used to serve this course. This course consists of uminomono and yamanomono (seafood and mountain food respectively) which signify the abundance of the sea and land. The host eats during this course, and is served sake by each guest. The position of server is considered a higher position and, to insure equality of all in the tea room, each acts as host if only momentarily.

Konomono (fragrant things) are served in small ceramic bowls, and browned rice is served in salted water in a lacquer pitcher, representing the last of the rice. Each guest cleans the utensils they have used with soft paper which they bring. A omogashi (principal sweet) is served to conclude the meal. The host then invites his guests to retire to the garden or waiting room while he prepares for tea. Once the guests have departed, the host removes the scroll and replaces it with flowers. The room is swept and the utensils for preparing koi cha are arranged. Over thirteen individual items are used. Each is costly and considered an art object.

The Spiritual World of Tea

In tea ceremony, water represents yin and fire in the hearth yang. The water is held in a jar called the mizusashi. This stoneware jar contains fresh water symbolizing purity, and is touched only by the host.

Matcha is kept in a small ceramic container called a chaire which is in turn covered in a shifuku (fine silk pouch) which is set in front of the mizusashi. The occasion will dictate the type of tana (stand) used to display the chosen utensils.

If tea is served during the day a gong is sounded, in evening a bell. Usually struck or rung five to seven times, it summons the guests back to the tea house. They purify hands and mouth once again and re-enter as before. They admire the flowers, kettle and hearth and seat themselves. The host enters with the chawan (tea bowl) which holds the chasen (tea whisk), chakin (the tea cloth) which is a bleached white linen cloth used to dry the bowl, and the chashaku (tea scoop), a slender bamboo scoop used to dispense the matcha, which rests across it. These are arranged next to the water jar which represents the sun (symbolic of yang); the bowl is the moon (yin). Retiring to the preparation room, the host returns with the kensui (waste water bowl), the hishaku (bamboo water ladle) and futaoki (a green bamboo rest for the kettle lid). He then closes the door to the preparation room.

Using a fukusa (fine silk cloth), which represents the spirit of the host, the host purifies the tea container and scoop. Deep significance is found in the host's careful inspection, folding and handling of the fukusa, for his level of concentration and state of meditation are being intensified. Hot water is ladled into the tea bowl, the whisk is rinsed, the tea bowl is emptied and wiped with the chakin.

Lifting the tea scoop and tea container, the host places three scoops of tea per guest into the tea bowl. Hot water is ladled from the kettle into the teabowl in a quantity sufficient to create a thin paste with the whisk. Additional water is then added to so the paste can be whisked into a thick liquid consistent with pea soup. Unused water in the ladle is returned to the kettle.

The host passes the tea bowl to the main guest who bows in accepting it. The bowl is raised and rotate in the hand to be admired. The guest then drinks some of the tea, wipes the rim of the bowl, and passes the bowl to the next guest who does the same as the main guest.

When the guests have all tasted the tea the bowl is returned to the host who rinses it. The whisk is rinsed and the tea scoop and the tea container cleaned. The scoop and tea container are offered to the guests for examination. A discussion of the objects, presentation and other appropriate topics takes place.

Preparing for Departure

The fire is then rebuilt for usa cha (thin tea). This tea will rinse the palate and symbolically prepares the guests for leaving the spiritual world of tea and re-entering the physical world. Smoking articles are offered, but rarely does smoking take place in a tearoom. This is but a sign for relaxation.

Zabuton (cushions) and teaburi (hand warmers) are offered. To compliment usa cha, higashi (dry sweets) are served. Usa cha and koi cha are made in the same manner, except that less tea powder of a lesser quality is used, and it is dispensed from a date-shaped wooden container called natsume. The tea bowl is more decorative in style; and guests are individually served a bowl of this forthy brew. At the conclusion, the guests express their appreciation for the tea and admiration for the art of the host. They leave as the host watches from the door of the teahouse.

Russian Tea Ceremonies

In some areas they use three teapots that sit on top of each other to keep the tea warm. Often they are decorated with pictures from Russian folk stories and sometimes, they are made in the shape of something so that when they fit together they look like a person or an animal.

Three teapots are used when you want to make two different kinds of tea at the same time.

The middle pot usually holds strong black tea, the smallest pot on the top holds herbal or mint tea, and the large pot on the bottom holds hot water. The teas can be mixed with each other and diluted with hot water as you pour out each cup. Everyone can mix the type of tea they like.

Tea is drunk from cups but more often Russians use a podstakanniki - a special glass in a silver holder. Tea is probably the favourite drink in Russia. It is made and served in teapots or samovars - a Russian tea kettle.

In Russia, tea is usually drunk after meals rather than with a meal but when tea is made using a samovar it is ready to be used all day long. A samovar is shaped like an urn and there is a special place for a small teapot to sit on the top.

Water is heated in the samovar and a strong dark tea is made using lots of tea leaves in the teapot on top. The strong tea is called zavarka. The tea is so strong that it has to be diluted with water from the samovar before you can drink it.

You mix a drop of tea with hot water taken from the tap or spout on the front of the samovar. As the water is used you need to refill the samovar and every few hours you have to make a fresh pot of black tea.

Some samovars are small and only hold about three litres of water but some can hold up to 30 litres. Samovars are usually made from metal. You can see them in homes, in offices and in restaurants.

Kinds of tea

China, the Homeland of Tea

China is the homeland of tea. Of the three major beverages of the world-- tea, coffee and cocoa-- tea is consumed by the largest number of people in the world.

China has tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of tea plants dates back two thousand years. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export.

At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world's total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character "cha." The Russians call it "cha'i", which sounds like "chaye" (tea leaves) as it is pronounced in northern China, and the English word "tea" sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The Japanese character for tea is written exactly the same as it is in Chinese, though pronounced with a slight difference. 

The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries. Now the number of tea drinkers in the world is legion and is still on the increase.

agony of the leaves:

expression describing the unfurling of rolled or twisted leaves during steeping


one of the major black tea producing regions in China


fragran flavor of brewed leaf, consisting of the essential oils of tea


Tea grown in the state of Assam, in India. These (generally black) teas are known for their strong, deep red infusions.


the drying sensation in the mouth caused by teas high in unoxidized polyphenols.


tea produced late in the growing season


tea taster expression for overfired teas


essential oil of the bergamot orange used to flavor a black tea base to make Earl Grey tea


Australian term referring to tin pot with wire handle to suspend over an open fire in which tea is boiled


tea taster's expression, often used with Assam teas that have been fired well but not overly so


the most common form of tea worldwide. prepared from green tea leaves which have been allowed to oxidize, or ferment, to form a reddish brew.


mixture of teas, usually to promote consistency between growing seasons


tea taster's term to describe sheen or lustre present to finished leaf


tea taster's term to denote a full strength brew


large leaf cut tea


unpleasant acidic bite from improperly withered tea


auction term referring to a lot for sale, usually 18 chests or more.

brick tea:

tea leaves that have been steamed and compressed into bricks. Tea is typically shaved and boiled with butter and salt to make a soup


denotes a bright red brew or light leaf, as opposed to a dull brown or black color.


a tea high in astringency. Also a trademarked characteristic of Lipton tea.


smaller leaf style usually created during manufacture by passing the leaf through a cutter


stimulating compound present in tea

cambric tea:

a very weak tea infusion in an excess of milk and sugar


class of polyphenol present in high concentrations in green tea, but found in varying levels in other teas derived from the teaplant


teas made in Sri Lanka


tea. Romanized spelling of Chinese and Japanese character referring to tea.


tea. Often refers to masala chai, or spiced tea, a strong black tea infused with milk, sugar, and spices.


classical tea package, usually made of wood and aluminum-lines, used to ship tea from plantation


tea taster's term signifying off odor in tea from the wood in the tea chest


a grade of Chinese tea with a curled shape.


a general name for Chinese black tea, derived from gongfu.


bright infusion of good quality black tea


stands for Crush, Tear, and Curl, a machine-based process which macerates the leaves by pressing through counter-rotating rollers to create a stronger, more coloury tea.


Tea grown in the Darjeeling region, a mountainous area around the Himalayas, of India. These (generally black) teas are well known for their crisp astringency.


refers to the tea leaf during fermentation, noted for its coppery color.


the smallest grade of tea, this is typically associated with lower quality, but is prized for its quick extraction and is commonly used in teabags.

earl grey:

Black tea that is scented with the essential oil of bergamot, a citrus.


small, grainy particles of leaf sifted out of better grade teas


used in the process of preparing black and oolong tea, this step involves allowing the natural browning enzymes present in tea leaf to oxidize fresh green tea leaves and to impart the darker brown-red color and characteristic aroma.


teas which contain a large percentage of fannings


the process of rapidly heating the leaf, either with hot air or in a wok, to quickly halt fermentation and dry the leaf to its final product.


teas lacking astringency or briskness


used in grading the size of tea, it typically indicates a leaf style with more of the lighter colored tips.


the freshly-picked tea leaves, typically comprising the bud and first two leaves of the growing tea shoot.


tea produced in Taiwan, typically oolong teas


strong tea without bitterness and posessing good color


green tea with toasted rice


denoting the orange colored tip present in high quality black tea

gong fu:

meaning performed with care, this typically refers to a style of brewing with many repeated short infusions.


meaning performed with care, this typically refers to a style of brewing with many repeated short infusions of leaf in a miniature pot.


term used to describe high quality CTC teas


unfermented, dried tea, more commonly found in China and Japan.


a green tea which is rolled into pellets which unfurl in hot water.


Japanese green tea produced from shaded plants. "Pearl Dew"


pungent tea, desired in some Assam teas


bitter teas


a thick, colory infusion with little briskness or astringency


chinese green teas. Brand of tea in common usage during 18th century. "flourishing spring".


black tea scented with jasmine flowers, typically made with green Pouchong tea as the base


black tea from central China, typically hand rolled and fired.

lapsang souchong:

A Chinese black tea which is fired (dried) over a smoky (pine wood) fire to impart its characteristic smoky flavor.


liquor lacking body or thickness


slightly over-fired tea, sometimes desirable


tea taster's term to denote coppery taste of some teas


tea taster's term to denote a dull, blackish color of the infusion


the aroma of the tea


A form of tea characterized by lighter brews and larger leaf styles. This tea is typically understood as a lightly fermented tea, between green and black tea on a continuum.

orange pekoe:

Referring to size of leaf, not quality or flavor, this term indicates a larger-size grade of whole leaf teas.


prepared using a technique which leads to larger leaf styles mirroring hand-produced teas.

pan fired:

tea that is steamed and then agitated in an iron wok over a fire


derived from baihao, the white hairs of the new buds on the tea shrub, this term currently refers to the smaller-size grade of whole leaf teas.


tea taster's term to denote dull liquor with sour taste


the process of harvesting the tea by cutting the flush from the growing tea shrub.


astringent compounds present in tea

pu erh:

a type of tea most notably from the Yunnan province of China. Damp green tea that has been fermented microbiologically to a black leaf.


a type of tea most notably from the Yunnan province of China. Damp green tea that has been fermented microbiologically to a black leaf.


tea taster's term to denote a very astringent tea


bitter taste


the process of crushing the leaves to initiate fermentation and impart twist.

self drinking:

rounded, well bodied tea that can be served unblended


tea taster's term for teas that have been fired over smoky flames, imparting a smoky flavor


tea taster's term for underfermented teas


term for large leaf teas derived from the third and fourth leaf of the tea shoot


describes teas with presence of red stalk pieces from a hard plucking


erroneous term referring to the astringent polyphenols of tea, unrelated to tannic acid polyphenols of other plants


tea taster's term for teas that have been fired over smoky flames, imparting a smoky flavor


shelf made of wire mesh or burlap used to spread the leaves out for withering and fermentation




orange red potyphenols unique to fermented teas such as black tea, and formed from the condensation of two catechins


unique amino acid in tea.


synonym for caffeine

ti kuan yin:

"Iron Goddessof Mercy"- a distinctive type of oolong tea typically longer-fermented and possessing a darker-colored but fragrant brew


teas with white or golden tips, indicating high quality


teas produced from the leaves of plants other than the tea plant, herbal tea.


bowl tea. A form of brick tea comprised of pu-erh tea pressed into a bowl shaped cake.


Before fermentation, the leaves need to be crushed to initiate oxidation. This imparts the curled appearance of the finished leaf.

two and a bud:

the ideal plucked tea for production, consisting of the new tea shoot and the first two leaves


a special type of green tea. Distinguished by the presence of the white hairs of the tea flush (baihao) and a lighter green, almost clear, infusion.


mellow quality, characteristic of some Keemun teas which have been given time to age


the first step in production of most teas. Involves letting the fresh leaves wither for some period of time after plucking to reduce moisture content.


tea taster's term indicating an undesirable grass or hay flavor in black tea


pronounced ee-hsing, this region in China is noted for its purple clay, used to produce distinctive unglazed teapots.


Tea grown in the Yunnan province, in the southwest of China. These black teas are known for their spicy character. This region also produces Pu-Erh tea.

Kinds of Tea

Tea can be divided into five basic categories: black, green, oolong, white and puerh.

Black tea is allowed to wither, which precedes a process called oxidation (sometimes incorrectly referred to as fermentation) during which water evaporates out of the leaf and the leaf absorbs more oxygen from the air. Black teas usually undergo full oxidation, and the results are the characteristic dark brown and black leaf, the typically more robust and pronounced flavors of black teas, and, when brewed appropriately, a higher caffeine content compared to other teas (50-65% of coffee, depending on the type and brewing technique).

Green tea is allowed to wither only slightly after being picked. Then the oxidation process is stopped very quickly by firing (rapidly heating) the leaves. Therefore, when brewed at lower temperatures and for less time, green teas tend to have less caffeine (10-30% of coffee). Greens also tend to produce more subtle flavors with many undertones and accents that connoisseurs treasure.


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