Kyoto Tea Ceremony

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Kyoto Tea Ceremony
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KYOTO

Private Tea Ceremony by the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Experience a private traditional tea ceremony in a 100-year-old building overlooking a beautiful Japanese garden.
from ¥8,000
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Immerse yourself in the practice of the Japanese tea ceremony while wearing a traditional Japanese kimono.
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Authentic Kyoto Tea Ceremony near Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Zen culture of Kyoto: participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
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Tea Ceremony in the Grand Tea Room of Jotoku-ji Temple

Led by an experienced tea master, immerse yourself in the traditions of a Japanese tea ceremony on the spiritual grounds of a local temple in Kyoto.
from ¥2,850
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Online Interactive Tea Ceremony

Enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony from Kyoto in the comfort of your own home.
from ¥5,000
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Kyoto Tea Ceremony

The nation’s cultural capital Kyoto is a Japanese city with a rich history and deep food culture. But for travelers yearning to learn about the culture of Japanese aesthetics and feel the historical magic of Kyoto firsthand, one type of hands-on experience comes to mind: a traditional Kyoto tea ceremony. So, if you're searching for the best tea ceremony in Kyoto, look no further! Take a look at the fascinating history and rituals of the Japanese tea ceremony.

The Japanese tea ceremony, or "Way of Tea," is the cultural practice of preparing and appreciating matcha: the refined, powdered green tea. This quiet, beautiful ritual embodies 16th-century tea master Sen Rikyu's four principles of tea ceremonies: harmony, respect, purity, and silence (wa-kei-sei-jaku). As the Japanese expression goes, each tea ceremony is a "perfect encounter," or "once in a lifetime experience" (ichi-go ichi-e), a unique meeting of souls that must be cherished.

Formal tea ceremonies can last hours, but are often abbreviated today, and typically take place in a tatami room or tea house. Different schools of tea follow slightly different practices, but tea ceremonies generally involve making precise hand movements and appreciating every aspect of the experience, right down to the intricacies of the dishware chosen for the guest.

Here are some basic tea ceremony etiquette and rules.

Wear kimono or conservative clothing. Traditionally, one wears a kimono at a Japanese tea ceremony, and your host will appreciate it! But modest Western-style clothing is perfectly acceptable—just be sure to forgo strong perfumes that distract from the experience and jewelry that could damage the equipment.

Sit in traditional Japanese seiza, kneeling with your backside resting on your feet, if you can. For people unaccustomed to sitting this way, seiza can be painful! So if your legs begin to hurt or fall asleep, switching to sitting cross-legged is generally acceptable, especially for foreigners.

Turn the teacup clockwise before drinking. For hygiene, each time the cup is passed, the new person must turn the cup slightly and drink from a different side of the cup. This also lets spectators see all sides of the beautiful, likely hand-picked pottery used at the tea ceremony.

Don't drink from the front of the teacup. Often, the front of the cup carries a special design meant to be shown off to the rest of the guests as you drink. So when turning the cup, try to avoid drinking from the front!

Avoid taking big gulps of tea. The professionally-made green tea at tea ceremonies is meant to be delicately savored, not chugged! Take about three sips and enjoy the experience slowly.

Say "osakini" to your neighbor before eating Japanese wagashi sweets or drinking tea. This simple phrase means "pardon me for going before you," and it is one of the most important rules of a polite tea ceremony. The order in which tea and sweets are passed around is the same every time, so you'll hear this quite often!

Basic Tea Ceremony Steps

1. Clean the tea room, arrange the tea garden, and prepare food (optional) before guests arrive

2. Have guests wash their hands to cleanse them of the "dust" of the outside world

3. Guests take turns passing around and eating Japanese wagashi sweets (opt.)

4. Warm up tea bowl (chawan) and soak bamboo whisk (chasen) in water

5. Use a cloth to gracefully clean and purify tea tools in front of guests

6. Put two scoops of matcha powder into a tea bowl with a bamboo tea ladle (chashaku)

7. Scoop 60 ml of hot water into a tea bowl with a bamboo water ladle (hishaku)

8. Stir well with a bamboo whisk until the tea is slightly foamy

9. Place finished tea in front of guest; both host and guest bow politely

10. Guest turns tea bowl 90° clockwise and takes slow sips, appreciating the tea

11. The first guest passes the tea bowl on to the next guest, who turns it 90° clockwise and sips, and so on

12. Once everyone has enjoyed the tea, the host cleans the tea equipment again

13. Guests politely inspect the beauty of all aspects of tea tools, room, and ceremony, bowing on exit

For any traveler looking for deeply satisfying things to do in Kyoto, there's no better choice than a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Japanese tea culture reflects so much of Japan's rich history that you'll come away from it with a more nuanced understanding of the beautiful country, guaranteed. Plus, professionally-made Japanese matcha green tea and sweets are incredibly tasty! Book one of these Kyoto tea ceremony experiences today and make your time in the ancient city of Kyoto both enriching and delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is tea ceremony in Japan called?
Tea ceremony in Japan is called sado (茶道) or chanoyu (茶の湯).
What is the purpose of Japanese tea ceremony?
The Japanese tea ceremony, or "Way of Tea," is the cultural practice of preparing and appreciating matcha. The tea ceremony in Japan embodies 16th-century tea master Sen Rikyu's four principles of tea ceremonies: harmony, respect, purity, and silence. It's a time to reflect and enjoy the beauty and zen of the tea.
Which tea is used in Japanese tea ceremony?
Powder matcha tea is use in Japanese tea ceremonies.
What does the Japanese tea ceremony symbolize / what are the 4 principles?
Tea ceremony in Japan embodies 16th-century tea master Sen Rikyu's four principles of tea ceremonies: harmony, respect, purity, and silence.
What does the Japanese tea ceremony include?
Formal tea ceremonies can last hours, but are often abbreviated today, and typically take place in a tatami room or tea house. The ceremony includes watching the tea master prepare the matcha, eating a small sweet (wagashi), and enjoying the rich, frothy matcha.