Cha No Yu: Matcha Ceremony
words by Edana Isobel Jamora + photography by Michael Greene
"Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty. "
-James Norwood Pratt
"The first cup moistens my lips and throat. The second cup breaks my loneliness. The third cup searches my barren entrails but to find therein some thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration — all the wrongs of life pass out through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified. The sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals. The seventh cup — Ah! but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of the cool wind that raises in my sleeves. Where is Elysium? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither."
Over the last 400 years Japan has made tea a way of life. The traditional ceremony is known as Cha-no-yu, also known as Hot Water for Tea, or Chadō, the Way of Tea. For the ones who follow this ritual, are known as Chajin - Tea Men.
The Japanese Art of Tea Making is closely connected to the spread of Buddhism within the 12th century. A monk by the name of Eisai returned from his trip to China. With him, he brought seeds from the tea plant, he then introduced to Japan the Chinese method of tea preparation that was in use in China during the Song dynasty.
It is believed that the art of Cha-no-yu Japanese Ceremony takes years to succeed as it is important to understand the true spirit and art of tea.
Some of the best Matcha comes from the uncontaminated area of the Nishio, Aichi prefecture, an area that has been the main producer of Matcha since the 1200s. This Matcha is seen to be more nutrient rich, green, pure and untouched. It is also higher in antioxidants, chlorophyll and fibre than other green teas.
Dry Powder - Super fine powdered Green Tea, fresh forest, grassy and earthy.
Liquid - Sharp bite, lingering sweetness, tactile mouth sensation, lightly herbaceous and grassy.
Colour - Intensely green in colour, cloudy and vibrant also known as 'jade froth'.
Scoop approximately 1 gram of tea with bamboo spatula and place into bowl. Pour hot water that should be at the temperature of 70° - 80° Celsius (160°-175° Fahrenheit) to avoid scorching tea then stir vigorously with a bamboo whisk until a dense foam (jade froth) appears on the surface.
PAIRINGS / RECOMMENDATIONS
Oysters, caviar, white chocolate, sweet delicate pastries, mascarpone desserts, soft cheeses, shortbread cookies, fish and sushi.
Great as a hot matcha latter or served cold with rice milk or as a soy matcha milkshake.
THE TEA CEREMONY
1. The Cha-no-yu ceremony takes place in the tea room - "place of emptiness" where the master kneels on the tatami mat with all his guests.
2. The tea bowl is dried with a silk cloth which hangs from the masters kimono belt.
3. Using the bamboo spatula, he pours a small amount of Matcha into the bowl.
4. Hot water is poured into the bowl.
5. The Matcha is whisked vigorously with bamboo whisk to obtain 'jade froth'.
6. The Matcha is ready to be served to the first guest, it is then repeated for several other guests and is usually served with a small traditional dessert.
THE TEN VIRTUES OF TEA BY MYŌEI SHŌNIN OF TOGA-NO-O
Has the blessings of all the Deities.
Promotes filial piety.
Drives away the Devil.
Keeps the Five Viscera in harmony.
Wards off disease.
Disciplines body and mind.
Destroys the passions.
Gives a peaceful death.