Tea ceremony has its unique place in Japanese culture and history. Making tea (matcha) is considered an art and there are many schools that teach this together with hospitality and the norms of conducting a tea ceremony. There are many tools used in making tea. Let’s have a look at three of the most important among them.
Chasen is a whisking utensil used to mix matcha with hot water to make it foamy. It is one of the main utensils used in a tea ceremony. There are various shapes and types of chasen available and it is said that there are more than 100 types of chasen in the market made up of different materials. It is up to the tea master of a tea school to decide which type of chasen to use. There are basically two kinds of matcha; one is usucha (thin tea) and koicha (thick tea). The formal way of using a chasen is to hold the chawan (tea bowl) with the non-dominant hand and use the thumb, index finger, and the middle finger of the dominant hand to hold the handle to mix. Without chasen, it is impossible to conduct a tea ceremony.
Kuromoji is an important part of the Sabi aesthetics of the ‘way of tea.’ It is nothing but a pick made from the spicewood plant, ‘Lindera,’ which is known for its refreshing fragrance. Kuromojiare used to consume sweets or cakes during the tea ceremony. One has to pick the cake and eat it using a kuromoji pick. They usually look thin and pointed at one end and a ‘bark’ handle at the other end. They are also used as chopsticks in such occasions.
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Chashaku is a long spoon used to scoop matcha powder. It originally came from China and was initially made of ivory or tortoiseshell. Later on, many people believed that metal spoons can damage the tea bowls and thus started making them with bamboo. Chashaku has a long neck with a leaf shaped scoop. The greatest tea master of all time, Sen no Rikyu of the Sengoku period, is said to have designed the bamboo chashaku. It is considered as one of the functional items of a tea ceremony.
Without the aforementioned three tools, a tea ceremony is incomplete. These utensils have a special place in Japanese culture or way of life.