History of chanoyu

Chado has been referred to as the "Japanese Tea Ceremony" for many years but the word literally means the Way of Tea. The simple art of Chado is really a synthesis of many Japanese arts with the focus of preparing and serving a bowl of tea with a pure heart.

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.

和 Wa – Harmony: In the tea space, all strive to come together in harmony, setting aside our differences and working to achieve mutual understanding amongst diverse individuals.

敬 Kei – Respect: Tea practitioners show respect for each other, but also for objects, traditions and history. We cultivate a mindfulness that enables us to treat people, things and idea with care and consideration.

清 Sei – Purity: We practice purity and clarity of intention, which also extends to the care and cleanliness with which we treat objects, surroundings and guests.

寂 Jaku – Tranquility: Through these practices, we aim to achieve tranquility – a state of peace, finding balance in a chaotic world through the cultivation of purity, respect and harmony.
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

Rikyu's seven precepts

Make a satisfying bowl of tea
Making a delicious bowl of tea is more than just using high quality tea and following the correct procedures. A guest's true satisfaction while having a bowl of tea comes from the host's hospitality and sincerity.

Lay the charcoal so that the water boils efficiently
Traditionally, burning charcoal is used to heat the water used for tea. The charcoal must be placed precisely to encourage air flow and to prevent the fire from extinguishing prematurely.

The flowers should be as if they are in the field
When displaying flowers for tea, the host must try to showcase the flowers' natural beauty. For example, the host may choose flowers that are notable for growing during the current season to allow them to be appreciated in the tea room.

Provide a sense of coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter
The host's primary focus should be making his guest comfortable. With deliberate choices for the day's utensils, scroll, sweets, and other items, the host provides the guest with both imagery and sensations to complement the season's natural warmth or coolness.

Be ready ahead of time
In tea as in life, time is a precious resource. The host must be efficient with his preparations, and the guest should be mindful to arrive ahead of the appointed time.
Be prepared in case it should rain
More than just for rain, the host must simply be prepared for anything. One cannot know when something unexpected will happen, and the host must be able to respond with inner calm in any situation.

Be thoughtful of the other guests
Showing a considerate attitude is as important for the host as it is for the guests. It is only by showing each other mutual respect both in and out of the tea room that we can build positive and long-lasting relationships.
As seen within Rikyu's seven rules, everything that goes into that serving of tea, even the quality of the air and the space where it is served, becomes a part of its flavor. The perfect tea must therefore capture the essence of the moment with all senses — the spirit of the season, of the occasion, of the time and the place. The ceremony called chaji — the full tea gathering — is where this takes place, and where the Way of Tea unfolds as an exquisite, singular moment in time shared by the participants.