The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu or chado. The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called otemae. Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the tea ceremony.
Tea gatherings are classified as ochakai or chaji. Chakai is a relatively simple course of hospitality that includes the service of confections, thin tea (薄茶 usucha), and perhaps a light meal. Chaji is a more formal gathering, usually with a full-course meal (kaiseki), followed by confections, thick tea (濃茶 koicha), and thin tea. A chaji will likely last at least four hours.
Tea equipment is called chadogu. A wide range of chadogu is available and different styles and motifs are used for different events and in different seasons. All the tools for tea ceremony are handled with exquisite care. They are scrupulously cleaned before and after each use and before storing, and some are handled only with gloved hands.
The following are a few of the essential components:
Chakin. The "chakin" is a small rectangular white linen or hemp cloth mainly used to wipe the tea bowl.
Tea bowl (chawan). Tea bowls are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, and different styles are used for thick and thin tea. Shallow bowls, which allow the tea to cool rapidly, are used in summer; deep bowls are used in winter. Bowls are frequently named by their creators or owners, or by a tea master. Bowls over four hundred years old are in use today, but only on unusually special occasions. The best bowls are thrown by hand, and some bowls are extremely valuable. Irregularities and imperfections are prized: they are often featured prominently as the "front" of the bowl.
Tea caddy (Natsume). The small lidded container in which the powdered tea is placed for use in the tea-making procedure (otemae).
Tea scoop (chashaku). Tea scoops generally are carved from a single piece of bamboo, although they may also be made of ivory or wood. They are used to scoop tea from the tea caddy into the tea bowl. Bamboo tea scoops in the most casual style have a nodule in the approximate center. Larger scoops are used to transfer tea into the tea caddy in the mizuya (preparation area), but these are not seen by guests. Different styles and colours are used in various tea traditions.
Tea whisk (chasen. This is the implement used to mix the powdered tea with the hot water. Tea whisks are carved from a single piece of bamboo. There are various types. Tea whisks quickly become worn and damaged with use, and the host should use a new one when holding a chakai or chaji.