Chanoyu : Exploration of the Senses
Chanoyu is the traditional name for the very popular Japanese Tea Ceremony. The word literally translates to – “way of tea” and we think it is beautiful since tea is an integral part of many cultures and lifestyles. You know, more like “a way of life”. Being the tea enthusiasts we are, we read up on this segment in “The Book of Ichigo Ichie”. What we found was the way this tradition cultivates the five senses. Ever thought about how sipping tea can correlate with meditation?
Of course one of the reasons why we drink tea is because of the addictive taste! But the idea behind this tradition is to serve the best quality tea (just like us) and make the decoction very concentrated. The taste of matcha, an almost bitter, but relaxing after taste remains. Giving your tongue the much needed revival.
The aroma of the infusion, though strong is also very fragrant. Have you ever smelled sweet flowers and instantly felt your mood change positively? Well, this has the same effect. It’s almost like, as soon as the aroma enters your nostrils, you immediately relax and your soul feels rejuvenated. If the ceremony is conducted in a traditional tea house while you look elegant in your traditional garb, the scent of the wet soil and the woods add to the experience.
Presentation matters a lot when it comes to anything that is consumption-based. Think about how much efforts a chef puts to make his dish look good, probably as equally as he would for his dish to taste! That’s the idea here as well. The simplicity of the cups and the rich color of the decoction adds to the pleasure of tea drinking. Even how you decorate your surroundings matter. So don’t hesitate to splurge and go big or go home.
Holding the hot cup of tea while you bring it to your lips, adds to the total experience. To feel is to enjoy it to the fullest. This is probably why the traditional Chanoyu cups do not come with a handle, so that you can hold the cup with the entirety of your palms. It’s these little things and details that make an experience memorable.
It’s maybe the rustle of the leaves from your surroundings, or the passing of the wind, the sound experience is the best experience. Many people meditate to the sounds of natural music. This explains why. Even the act of sipping the tea and the “slurp” sound can be very relaxing. Do try it next time!
Now that you know why tea drinking is also a tradition in Japan, I’m sure most of us would like to try this ceremony at our homes. Why meditate the clichéd way when you can amp it up and take a traditional, more oriental path? Well, go try recreating the experience and do let us know about it!
By Shrija Bhattacharya