Kyoto is the home of the Japanese tea ceremony, with the Uji region of Kyoto Prefecture being famous for its high-quality matcha. During your stay in the cultural capital of Japan, learn about and participate in the art of the Japanese tea ceremony. Through airKitchen, you can additionally learn how to make traditional dishes, like sushi and wagash, as part of your tea ceremony experience with your Japanese host.
This was our first time experiencing a cooking lesson and it was a fantastic experience! Yumiko was very welcoming, friendly and professional yet down to earth. I went there with my boyfriend and there was one more person with us. Yumiko made sure to include all of us during the stay. It was very...
Our cooking class with Mrs Yumiko was a thouroughly delightful experience. Not only did we learn the basics of making dashi stock, tamagoyaki and various shushi. Mrs Yumiko shared with us her profound experience of selecting quality foods and shared her wealth of knowledge in cooking tricks. And...
Our cooking lesson with Yumiko was an amazing experience!! The food was great and Yumiko was the ultimate hostess. We felt very welcomed into her home. We also had our son with us and Yumiko had so much patience including him in the lesson. It has honestly been the highlight of our trip. Definit...
Ms Yasue is very friendly and encouraging to us when we are learning to make the sweets! We had a lot of fun!
My cooking experience with Yumiko was amazing - a highlight of my time in Japan. It wasn’t only the food that was cooked but Yumiko; she is an interesting and fun person.
On average tea ceremony classes in Kyoto cost ¥4735 per person (based on airKitchen prices).
All tea ceremony classes in Kyoto on airKitchen are offered in English.
Enjoy making Sushi, miso soup & Matcha(Tea ceremony)! is popular with other travelers visiting Kyoto.
Popular cheap tea ceremony classes in Kyoto include Prepare Japanese local food and tea ceremony in lovely Arashiyama!.
Please note that this is an example, and classes vary by host.
The setting of the tea ceremony is important, meant to encourage peace and reflection among participants. At its most formal, there are very specific rules of the room set-up and surrounding environment.
In a tea ceremony, the host will gracefully clean the tools in front of guests. These tools include the tea whisk (chasen), tea scoop (chashaku), and tea bowl (chawan).
Matcha powder and hot water are whisked together in the tea bowl until frothy. The powder-water ratio depends on whether you’re preparing thick tea (koicha) or thin tea (usucha).
Traditional Japanese confections, wagashi, are often eaten before the green tea is enjoyed. Their sweetness offsets the bitterness of the matcha.
The bowl is passed around among guests until everyone has drank and tasted the tea.
The tea ceremony is about much more than just enjoying tea. It is a spiritual practice, intended to offer a sense of peace and harmony beyond our busy daily lives. It is guided by the uniquely Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi”, which celebrates the simplicity and perfection of imperfection.
Tea was first introduced in Japan from China in the 9th century. Though tea was initially prepared using tea leaves, powdered green tea (matcha) was introduced at the end of the 12th century. While at first the tea ceremony was a religious practice performed by Buddhist monks, it became a symbol of upper Japanese society. Over time, the tea ceremony spread from the court and samurai classes to the common people.
The Japanese tea ceremony is heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism. Japanese Buddhist monks were the first to introduce tea from China, and later the method of brewing tea from powdered matcha. Zen Buddhist monks saw an opportunity to practice mindfulness during the preparation and consumption of tea, shaping the tea ceremony into a spiritual practice. Wabi-cha is a Japanese tea ceremony style specifically related to Zen Buddhist principles, focused on simplicity and mindfulness.
During the tea ceremony, powdered green tea (matcha) is prepared by the host for guests following specific techniques and etiquette. Traditional Japanese confections, wagashi, are usually served alongside the bitter tea. Longer tea ceremonies include a kaiseki meal and the brewing of two types of green tea.
The length of the tea ceremony can vary, depending on the type and degree of formality. A chaji, the most formal tea ceremony, can last up to four hours – it often includes a full-course kaiseki meal. On the other hand, a chaikai is generally less rigorous and can take as little as 45 minutes to an hour.
The tea ceremony is meant to bring about feelings of peace and serenity, thus it’s important to be respectful of your host, other guests, and the tearoom throughout the ritual. Wear conservative clothes, remove your shoes before entering the tearoom, let your host seat you, and eat and drink everything served to you. Your host will guide you through the ritual, so don’t worry too much! Just be genuine and sincere.
Traditionally, simple kimonos are worn during the tea ceremony. Flashy designs are avoided in consistency with the concept of “wabi-sabi” described above. Men wear hakama, another form of traditional Japanese attire. If you are wearing Western clothing to a tea ceremony, it’s best to keep it conservative and not too casual.
Sometimes, tea ceremonies are performed as part of a traditional Japanese wedding celebration. They are often small, seated ceremonies shared among family members. Oaths are exchanged and tea is enjoyed in a peaceful atmosphere.
Traditionally, geisha performed the tea ceremony as part of the five-year apprenticeship – a maiko is an apprentice geisha. They often lead public tea ceremonies on special occasions, especially during cherry blossom season under sakura trees.
Historically, the tea ceremony was reserved for the Japanese elite – the court and samurai classes. The samurai were a powerful class at the top of the social hierarchy, and thus historically had the leisure and luxury for the tea ceremony. It wasn’t until later that the ritual trickled down and became a part of common Japanese society.
The Urasenke school is the largest of the three tea ceremony schools founded by the descendants of Sen no Rikyu, a 16th-century tea master. This school was built by Sen Sotan, Rikyu’s grandson, and prioritizes guest enjoyment of the tea ceremony. Therefore, the Urasenke school is more open to allowing guests to sit on stools for their comfort verus on the floor, as is traditional.
The Omotesenke school focuses on simplicity, adopting simple tea utensils and procedures. The tea is whisked less than the Urasenke school, making it less frothy. In addition, a whisk made from smoked bamboo (susudake) is used as opposed to an untreated bamboo whisk used by the Urasenke school.
The smallest of the three schools is the Mushanokojisenke school, or Mushakojisenke school, founded by Sen no Rikyu’s great-grandson Ichio Soushu. Like the Omotesenke school, the tea is not as foamy. There are other subtle differences between the three schools when it comes to the movements, seating style, and attire of the tea ceremony.
The chaji is the most formal version of the Japanese tea ceremony, lasting up to four hours. It typically includes an extravagant kaiseki meal and the enjoyment of traditional Japanese confections before both thick and thin green tea is served.
Though still guided by strict etiquette and guidelines, the chaikai is more informal tea ceremony gathering. Wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) are still typically enjoyed along with thin matcha tea.
Koicha is a thick green tea that uses three times the amount of matcha as usucha. After being whisked, it is served to guests in a single bowl.
Usucha tea is a thinner and frotheir green tea, prepared using a higher water to matcha ratio. Traditionally, it is served in separate bowls to participants in the tea ceremony following the koicha.
The chawan is the tea bowl that is used to prepare and drink the tea.
One of the most memorable and important tools used in the tea ceremony is the chasen, or tea whisk, made of bamboo.
This is a ladle, traditionally made of bamboo, that is used to scoop the matcha into the tea bowl.
The chakin is a cloth used to wipe and keep the tea bowl clean during the ceremony.
The natsume is the container that contains the green tea powder.
You can rent a kimono as a part of your Kyoto tea ceremony experience with Maikoya Tea Ceremony. There are a few different packages at varying prices. You can decide whether or not you want to wear a kimono, have a private instead of a group ceremony, and enjoy wagashi as part of your experience
There are two Camellia Tea Ceremony tea houses, one on the east side and the other on the west side of Kyoto. You can book both group and private tea ceremony classes, as well as rent a kimono with them.
At Tea Ceremony Koto in Kyoto, you can watch and experience the Japanese tea ceremony. There are kimono rentals available, and you can also learn Ikebana – the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement – here.
Tea Ceremony Ju-An is one of the oldest places to experience the Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto. It is located inside Jotokuji Temple. Like the other options, you can rent a kimono and book either a group or private ceremony at Ju-An.
As a city steeped in tradition, Kyoto is a popular place to experience the Japanese tea ceremony. The tea ceremony has its roots in Kyoto, and today it is home to the three main schools of the Japanese tea ceremony. Each part and process of the tea ceremony carries strong intention and cultural significance – the layout of the room, the tea used, the sequence of steps, the movements of the server, and so on. Learning about the components of this ritual helps travelers understand Japanese values of harmony, austerity, and grace while participating in a uniquely Japanese tradition.
With Kyoto being the home to the Japanese tea ceremony, there are many options to choose from for those interested in experiencing this traditional ritual in Japan’s cultural capital. However, what makes the airKitchen tea ceremony experience unique is that it takes place in the home of a local Japanese host. This enables participants to not only experience and learn about the tea ceremony, but to also catch a glimpse of what an ordinary home and life looks like for Kyoto’s locals.
Located in Kyoto Prefecture and neighboring Kyoto City is the city of Uji, which is famous for its green tea that has historically supplied the tea ceremonies of Kyoto. Enjoy the famous Uji matcha through an airKitchen tea ceremony class in Kyoto. You’ll find many of the classes pair the tea ceremony with other cooking courses, especially for wagashi (Japanese desserts), since customarily the tea ceremony includes the enjoyment of these traditional sweets. It is tough to compete with the taste of Uji green tea prepared in the Japanese tea ceremony, so don’t miss out during your stay in Kyoto!