Sen Sooku, hereditary successor to the Mushakoji Senke Tea School and direct descendent of the founding Grand Master, Sen-no-Rikyu, says “You can call any gathering a tea ceremony as long as there are guests and maccha.”

When serving, the host prepares each bowl of maccha with great care, taking into consideration the preferences and physical conditions of the guests. For example, if a guest is perspiring and looks thirsty, a host will make the maccha slightly weaker and in larger quantity. Tea bowls are carefully selected.

  1. Remove any accesories and/or metals before you begin. Bow lightly when wagashi (sweets) are presented. They’ll be passed on a tray from one guest to another. The border of the tatami must seperate host from guest.
  2. The guest presents kaishi (special paper napkins), folds one from the bottom and places the coarse side on top of the others.
  3. Place a wagashi on the folded kaishi with a wooden pick called a kuromoji. If there are no kaishi, just put the wagashi on the plate. Be careful not to scrape the plate
  4. Return the wagashi to the tray so its front faces the host. Eat it using a kuromoji pick. Finish the wagashi before the tea is served. Anything uneaten should be wrapped in kaishi and taken home.
  5. When the tea is served, the host and guests should bow to one another. Draw the bowl to you. Put it between you and your neighbor, saying “Excuse me for going ahead of you.” Lift it up with your right hand, and hold it in your left.
  6. Handle the bowl carefully. When drinking, turn it clockwise 90 degrees in order to avoid having the front face you. Sip. The last sip is a slurp to drain the tea. Asking for seconds will delight the host.
  7. After drinking the tea, the rim of the bowl where you sipped should be wiped off with your fingers. You should then wipe your fingers with kaishi paper.
  8. The tea bowl should then be carefully examined. Place the bowl on the tatami mat and admire it from right and left.
  9. To observe the bottom of the bowl, hold it securely with both hands and turn it over. It is more stable if you rest your elbows on both knees.
  10. Return the bowl to the original position and bow.