1

2

3

4

[Matcha and the Japanese Tea Ceremony]

Recently, there is a wide variety of sweets and beverages made with matcha, which has a delicious bittersweet taste and aroma. Tea is made from a plant called the chanoki (tea plant). Matcha is made from "tencha (tea leaves)", which are steamed and dried before being ground on a millstone. Tea contains catechins and vitamin C, which act as antioxidants and activate immune cells, and tencha contains high levels of theanine, a type of amino acid found in tea leaves, which has the health benefits of relaxing and improving concentration.

The traditional Japanese culture of "sado (chado)" or "chanoyu" refers to the ritual and style of tea. The tea ceremony is a comprehensive art form that combines the aesthetic value of the garden leading up to the tea room (called roji), the decoration of the tea room, the selection and appreciation of tea utensils, the food served, and the etiquette of tea service, with the spirituality and thought that emphasizes the spiritual interaction between the master and his/her guests, where the Japanese spirit of hospitality that continues to this day can be seen.

Tea was introduced to Japan from China during the Nara period (710-794). Later, Eisai, who became the founder of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism after completing his training in the Song Dynasty in China during the Kamakura period (1192-1333), brought back tea seeds and, together with Zen Buddhism, spread tea cultivation and drinking methods throughout the country. In "Kissa Yojoki," Eisai's book on the history and benefits of tea, it is written that "tea is an elixir of cure and a good way to prolong people's life.” Zen practice is also said to be a practice to keep people awake, and by increasing the desire for sleep, other desires are cut off. Eisai incorporated tea into Zen practice, and before sitting in zazen, he performed the ritual of charei, in which tea is served as a medicine to awaken sleepiness. The tea ceremony was derived from this charei.

In the Muromachi period (1336-1573), "karamono" from China were in vogue, and tea ceremonies using them became popular. On the other hand, Murata Jukou established the Wabicha style of tea ceremony, which used Japanese-made tea utensils called "wamono" and emphasized the spiritual exchange between the master and his guests. In one of Shukoh's writings, known as "Kokoro no Fumi," addressed to his disciples, he wrote, "Be a teacher of the mind. Do not let your mind be your teacher.” As he said, "Be in a position to control your mind, not to be swayed by your changeable mind," Juko aimed to make the tea ceremony "a place for spiritual practice where you can control your mind and confront yourself."

Later, Joou Takeno inherited this spirit, and his disciple Sen no Rikyu perfected the Wabicha style during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1600), which became the foundation of today's tea ceremony. Many schools of tea ceremony, including Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushanokoji Senke, were created by Sen no Rikyu's descendants, and are still widely popular today.

Rikyu taught "和敬清寂 (harmony, respect, purity, and silence)" and the "利休七則 (Seven Rikyu Rules)." "和敬清寂" means that the host and guest should respect each other with a peaceful mind and keep the articles and atmosphere of the tea room clean. The "利休七則" are to prepare the tea to a level that the drinker finds tasty, to place the charcoal in such a way that the water boils just the right amount at the right time, to arrange flowers naturally as they bloom in the field, to create a comfortable environment in both spring and summer, to be on time, and to be prepared for everything with care and without negligence. It is said that the heart of all tea is contained in these four short letters and seven teachings.

The book "Bushido" (published in 1899) by Inazo Nitobe describes the tea ceremony as the manner of a samurai. The tea ceremony was popularized worldwide by Okakura Tenshin's (Kakuzo) "The Book of Tea" and Daisetz Suzuki's "Zen and Japanese Culture. Both books were written in English, and the unique values, spirituality, and aesthetics of Japanese culture can be seen in the world of tea ceremony and Zen that resonate in the heart.

Susumuya's Matcha Set is a tea utensil for the everyday enjoyment of matcha. The Matcha Katakuchi, specially designed for matcha, is an excellent way to serve matcha for multiple people at the same temperature, thickness, and timing. Pouring it into a small Matcha Guinomi is like drinking espresso in a café. Why not prepare delicious tea, sweets, and your favorite tea utensils and vessels, and experience the tea culture that continues to this day?

Susumuya's Matcha Set
https://www.shokunin.com/en/susumuya/matcha.html
Tansougama’s Slipware Mamezara
https://www.shokunin.com/en/tansou/slipware.html
Otera Kohachiro Shoten's Kanamari S
https://www.shokunin.com/en/otera/kanamari.html

References
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/チャノキ
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/碾茶
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/茶道
http://shizuoka-cha.com/index.php/ocha
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/武士道_(新渡戸稲造)
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/和敬清寂
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/抹茶
https://www.urasenke.or.jp/textb/shiru/beginer/kokoro.html