The Japanese tea ceremony is a traditional ritual influenced by Zen Buddhism in which powdered green tea (matcha) is ceremonially prepared by a skilled practitioner and served to a small group of guests in a tranquil setting. Cha-no-yu ("hot water for tea") usually refers to a single ceremony or ritual, while sadō or chadō ("the way of tea") refer to the study or doctrine of tea ceremony. Since a tea practitioner must be familiar with the production and types of tea, with kimono, calligraphy, flower arranging, ceramics, incense and a wide range of other disciplines and traditional arts in addition to his or her school's tea practices, the study of tea ceremony takes many years and often lasts a lifetime. Even to participate as a guest in a formal tea ceremony requires knowledge of the prescribed gestures and phrases expected of guests, the proper way to take tea and sweets, and general deportment in the tea room. Drinking of tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century by a Buddhist monk from China, where it had already been known, according to legend, for thousands of years. Tea soon became widely popular in Japan, and began to be cultivated locally. By the 16th century, tea drinking had spread to all levels of society in Japan. Sen no Rikyu, perhaps the most well-known - and still revered - historical figure in tea ceremony, introduced the concept of ichi-go ichi-e ("one time, one meeting"), a belief that each meeting should be treasured, for it can never be reproduced. His teachings led to the development of new forms in Japanese architecture and gardens, fine and applied arts, and to the full developmnet of sado. The principles he set forward - harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility - are still central to tea ceremony today. (from Wikipedia)
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