Beyond Tea: 4 Life Lessons from the Art of Tea Ceremony

tea ceremony, kyoto, maccha

Tea ceremony, or “chado” in Japanese, may seem difficult and intimidating to learn at first. But as I recently discovered, there are so many things that can be learned from it, beyond just making and serving tea.

I started taking tea ceremony lessons last month and I am already learning so much. Here are four things I have discovered so far:

Zen Phrases

During tea ceremony classes and tea parties, “hanging scrolls” are hung up with Zen phrases written on them. These phrases are words used by Zen monks and Zen families, and they might make you aware of what you are missing at the moment. Even if you can’t read the characters, you can ask the teacher or look up the meaning later. Zen phrases can be truly inspirational and gently teach you an attitude towards life.

Seasonal Matters

Tea ceremony can depend on the season, even the sweets and flowers displayed. It makes you sensitive to the small changes of the seasons, and you can appreciate the little things in life. Even if you’re not doing tea ceremony, if you’re having tea at a cafe and there are seasonal items next to the register, don’t you think, “Aw, that’s cute and lovely!”?


For those who do tea ceremony, wearing a kimono is an essential item. It’s fascinating to see people doing tea ceremony in kimonos and I always wanted to try it. Little did I know that there are types of kimonos, the names of the parts, and the changing of clothes. I still have a lot to learn about how to wear a kimono, but I’m excited to try out the kimono lifestyle.


Tea ceremony is not just about making and serving tea, it’s also about appreciating nature. Wildflowers are displayed in the tokonoma, a small alcove in the tea room. These flowers are called “cha-bana” and they play an important role in tea ceremony. Even if you’re in an urban area, you might see mountain peppers planted in banks or other wildflowers in your neighborhood. Natural flowers are often modest, but knowing about tea flowers through tea ceremony, you become able to enjoy and appreciate them.

These are just a few things I’ve learned about the world through tea ceremony. It may seem like a lot to take in, but remember that no one is perfect. Everyone is just trying to learn and enjoy the art of tea ceremony together.

Featured image by Ramapo



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