Sado (Japanese tea ceremony)
Update: 26 October 2016

Sado (Japanese tea ceremony)

Japanese tea ceremony is well known abroad. It might have an inaccessible impression because of its various rules. Here introduced are the basics and the history of Sado.

What is Sado?

Sado is a ritual of the master of the house making the tea and offering it to guests to drink, which then became an art. Sado can be said to be packed with the Japanese spirit. A glimpse of the Japanese spirit can be seen, for instance, in the spirit of motenashi (hospitality) which is the detailed thoughtfulness and consideration they display when receiving guests.

History of Sado

The present-day form of Sado was established by Sen no Rikyu, who was merchant and a master of the tea ceremony in the Azuchi-Momoyama period. The Chano-yu (a style of Japanese tea ceremony) where Sen no Rikyu invited guests to a creative performance of making matcha (powdered green tea), was highly influential to the Sengoku busho (military commanders of the Warring States period). Currently, there are various schools in Japanese tea ceremony including Omotesenke and Urasenke.

Chashitsu (tea ceremony room)

In Sado, there are rooms exclusive for tea ceremony called Chashitsu (literally meaning tea room). Traditionally Chashitsu exist as a separate building surrounded by the Japanese garden called Roji. One must stoop down to enter the small doorway called Nijiriguchi (literally 'squeeze-in door') to the Chashitsu. The lighting inside is kept to a minimum. At the Chashitsu, there is an alcove where flowers and a hanging scroll are displayed, and in front of that is a hearth to boil the water.

Chaji (tea event) and Chakai (tea gathering)

Chaji is a Chakai where the master performs for a small number of guests who are invited in advance. At a formal Chaji, a kaiseki meal is offered for lunch first, and then 2 types of tea, such as full-flavored green tea and weak-flavored green tea, are prepared.

Matcha (fine powder green tea)

In sado, generally, a powdered tea called matcha is used. Matcha contains large amounts of theanine, which has an effect to enhance one's relaxation and concentration.


Along with matcha, sweets are essential for sado. In sado, sweets are served to enhance the enjoyment of the tea. The sweets are eaten before drinking tea.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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