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How To Create The Perfect Tea Space: A Comprehensive Guide

Posted by Boyka Mihaylova on

In our previous blog post we went through the history of the Cha Xi, or the Tea Space ("Tea Mat") and the ancient's pursuit of the beauty hidden in detail. Now, we'll get practical by going through the nine essential elements for you to create your perfect tea space. 

 

How to arrange the Cha Xi

Now that we have discussed the history and meaning of the Cha Xi, let's go through step-by-step instructions on how to set up our own tea space. We'll list the right tools to pick and arrange to create a harmonized tea space for our tea ritual.  

The art of tea ceremony is not just about brewing and drinking tea but also about creating a beautiful and harmonious space that reflects the spirit of the ceremony. To design a tea space that captures the essence of the tea ceremony, there are nine essential elements to consider.

 

loose leaf tea

The tea leaves

The tea leaves are the foundation of every tea ceremony. They are the soul of the tea art. Tea leaves serve as the source and goal of the entire tea culture and shape the design of the tea space. The tea leaves define the color palette, textures, and even the overall ambiance of the space. The tea leaves have the power to soothe the mind and refresh the soul. In a tea ceremony, they are the most important element.

 

tea table set 

The tea set

The tea set is at the basis of the tea space design, and an important part of the tea ceremony.

The combination of tea sets should be one of practicality and artistry. It allows for traditional or creative setups.

Tea sets generally include a teapot, teacups, a tea pitcher, and a tea tray. The teapot, the most important utensil, is for brewing and serving tea. The teacups, usually small and without handles, are for drinking the tea. The tea pitcher is for holding and pouring the brewed tea into the teacups. As for the tea tray, it holds the tea set and catches any spills or drips.

When selecting a tea set for the tea space, it is important to consider the quality of the materials, as well as the size and shape of the pieces. The set should also be visually appealing and complement the overall theme and atmosphere of the tea space.

 

tea cloth

 

The cloth & fabrics 

The choice of cloth and fabric in the tea space set up is important for the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of the tea space. The cloth not only keeps the utensils clean but also enhances the theme and mood of the tea ceremony.

The color and style of the fabrics can profoundly impact the emotions and behavior of those participating in the ceremony. For example, a bright red cloth may evoke feelings of excitement and passion, while a soft blue may create a sense of calm and relaxation.

Furthermore, the texture and pattern of the cloth can also contribute to the ambiance of the tea space. A smooth, glossy fabric may create a more formal and elegant atmosphere, while a textured and rustic material may lend a more natural and down-to-earth vibe.

It is also important to note that the use of cloth and fabric is not limited to just the tea table. Bedding and cushions are also part of it. Their design and color should complement the theme of the tea space.

 

tea ritual

 

Flower arrangement 

Flower arrangement has long been an essential element of traditional tea ceremonies, as it represents nature and the changing seasons. The arrangement integrates certain thoughts and emotions by using flowers and leaves in various shapes.

In the context of the tea space, flower arrangements should embody the spirit of tea, which emphasizes simplicity, elegance, delicacy, and exquisiteness. The tea space's flower arrangement comes in four types: upright, inclined, hanging, and horizontal.

  1. A tall, vertical form characterizes upright flower arrangements. They are typically placed in the center of the tea table. The flowers and branches are arranged in a straight line to create a sense of dignity and elegance.
  2. Inclined flower arrangements create a more natural and relaxed feel. The stems of the flowers and branches are at a diagonal angle, creating a gentle curve that suggests a sense of movement and flow.
  3. Hanging flower arrangements involve suspending flowers from a branch or string, creating an ethereal and delicate effect. These arrangements are typically in the background of the tea space and serve to enhance the overall ambiance of the space.
  4. Finally, horizontal flower arrangements are designed to create a harmonious and balanced feel. The master sticks the flowers and branches in a flat, low container, creating a sense of balance and symmetry.

 

The choice of flowers and their arrangement can convey different meanings and emotions. For example, cherry blossoms represent the beauty and fleetingness of life, while peonies symbolize wealth and honor. A careful selection and arrangement of flowers can elevate tea brewing into a meaningful and aesthetically pleasing experience.

 

tea incense

Incense

Incense has always occupied a significant position in the tea ceremony. Its beautiful smell floats around the tea table, adding color to the tea ritual. The purifying aroma clears the air and sets in a meditative mood.  

There are many kinds of incense, generally of natural origin. The placement of the incense burner inside the tea space should respond to three basic rules: 

  •  no usage of pungent smells 
  •  not putting the incense against the wind direction 
  •  smoke should not get into the eyes

 

Paintings and scrolls

 Hanging scrolls and paintings are essential elements of the tea space. They provide a visual focal point and add to the overall ambiance. Traditionally, these artworks hang on the wall behind the tea table, serving as a backdrop to the ceremony.

The scrolls or paintings for the tea ceremony should reflect the theme or mood of the occasion. Often, they represent famous quotes or poems written in elegant script. The verses can convey deep philosophical meanings or simple expressions of beauty and nature.

In addition to calligraphy, paintings can also be part of the tea space decoration. These may feature landscapes, flowers, or other natural elements. Often, the paintings feature delicate brushstrokes, reflecting the fine artistry and attention to detail of traditional Chinese painting.

The combination of calligraphy and painting in a single scroll or hanging is also common in the tea ceremony. These works of art are a harmonious blend of calligraphy and painting complementing each other.

 

tea food

 

Food 

Tea food plays an important role in the tea space setup. It enhances the flavor and aroma of the tea. The essence of tea food is to complement and balance the taste of the tea rather than overpower it.

In traditional Chinese tea culture, tea food is usually small in size and elegantly presented. The food should also match the theme and atmosphere of the tea ceremony. For instance, a tea ceremony emphasizing simplicity and tranquility might feature light and refreshing tea snacks, such as fresh fruits or steamed buns. Meanwhile, a tea ceremony highlighting richness and luxury might include more savory and hearty tea snacks with a multitude of ingredients.

Tea food is not only meant to be pleasing to the palate but also to the eyes. The presentation of the food is just as important as the taste. For example, the host might arrange tea snacks in a decorative pattern. They can also display the food in a unique and creative way to enhance the overall aesthetic of the tea space.

 

Artwork and handicrafts

The art of handicrafts has a long history in China. Different handicrafts represent a part of the country's intangible cultural heritage. They are a living witness to the century-old culture of many minority groups in the country. 

In the context of the tea space setup, handicrafts play an essential role in creating a specific atmosphere and complementing the theme of the tea space. They can evoke emotions but also serve practical purposes. The careful selection and placement of handicrafts and artwork can enhance the overall experience of the tea ceremony.

Handicrafts can feature a variety of materials, such as ceramics, wood, metal, and bamboo. They can take many forms, such as vases, sculptures, and figurines. The choice of handicrafts for a tea ceremony is crucial as it can evoke specific memories and emotions related to the occasion.

The use of handicrafts and artwork in the tea ceremony is not just for decoration. They can also serve practical purposes. For example, a teapot stand made of wood or ceramic adds aesthetic value and protects the table from heat damage.

 

Background and framing

The background of a tea space plays an important role in creating a peaceful and serene atmosphere for the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony is all about creating an environment where people can relax and enjoy a cup of tea in a comfortable setting. The background is an integral part of that experience.

There are a variety of forms that the background can take, each of which can help to create a unique and calming atmosphere. One common background form is bamboo, which symbolizes strength, resilience, and flexibility. A bamboo background can also add a touch of natural beauty to the tea space, creating a sense of harmony and balance.

Another popular background form is using stones or rocks, which can create a sense of solidity and stability. The use of stones in the tea space setup can also symbolize the importance of stillness and tranquility in the tea ceremony.

Windows are also commonly used as a background in the tea space. They add a sense of openness and lightness to the tea space and promote a feeling of relaxation and calm. Windows can also create a sense of connection between the tea space and the surrounding environment, which can help to create a deeper sense of harmony and balance.

 

Creating a harmonious tea space is an art that requires attention to detail and an understanding of the various elements that go into it. Each of the essential elements of the tea space plays a unique role in creating a peaceful and serene environment for the tea ceremony.

 

From the tea utensils to the flower arrangements, hanging scrolls, and artwork, each item is carefully chosen to create a specific atmosphere and evoke a particular feeling in the participants. Their careful selection and arrangement will contribute to the overall aesthetic and mood of the Cha Xi.

When creating your own tea space, remember that harmony is the key. Each element should work together with the rest of the setup to create a sense of calm and tranquility. With a bit of practice and attention to detail, you, too, can create a beautiful and peaceful tea space setup, perfect for enjoying tea with friends and loved ones.