The way of tea is a spiritual and aesthetic practice using artistic forms, knowledge, Japanese traditions, and the rituals of food and drink. The principle hallmarks of this path are harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. For Westerners like myself- Humility, Honour, Humour, and Hospitality, are four additional (and personal) principles in the practice of the Way of Tea.At the time of its invention, most people could not afford the luxury of shaving their heads, forsaking the world, and joining a monastery in order to obtain spiritual fulfillment. Thus tea came into being and shaped a nation. The art of drinking tea became a practice for the elite and educated, but certain individuals found a more profound way for this simple act. Takeno Jo-o, Morata Shuko, and Sen-no Rikyu, took cha-no-yu from the heights of pretense to the depths of brevity and commonality. The concepts of "wabi" and "sabi" were developed,(i.e. aged, imperfect beauty, and transient value). All this for a bowl of tea. When one drinks "matcha" one is drinking a form of powdered green tea. The same type of leaves used in black western tea are used in this type; but the leaf is ground to a fine consistency, then whisked and drunk whole. Matcha's origins come from long ago in Japan's history when Buddhist monks would drink this "medicine" in order to stay awake while meditating. It was also used as a substitute for half of the Chinese pharmicopia.
In the late 1400s of feudal Japan, Sen-no-Rikyu, the first grand tea master, garnered the help of a few noted Zen Masters to help him establish a way in which the common man could find inner peace through a bowl of tea. From studying this process the tea student could also participate in the world of all art forms by engaging in the presentation of an egalitarian setting. The current grand tea master has also made it his goal to help spread peace through out the world from the communal act of drinking a bowl of tea. Japanese tea ritual has elements of religion, literature, philosophy, etiquette, as well as art forms and crafts that can be enjoyed. The way of tea (cha-no-yu) can be used as a path to study the self, or it can be used for the student's own personal requirements. The way of tea is open to all.