Strongly influenced by the Zen Buddhism this tea ceremony is not actually a religious act. The concept and attitude towards tea was studied greatly by the early tea masters. The sabi or "We kei sie jaku" is a philosophy and important concept in a tea ceremony meaning harmony, purity, tranquillity and respect.
Another ceremony followed by the Zen monks is wabi meaning "one time, one meeting", a unique belief that each moment is unrepeatable and must be treasured. They drink tea in a totally different aspect to just pop the kettle on and have a cuppa.
There are three main schools known as houses of the Sen in Japanese tea ceremonies: Urasenke, omotesenke and musha. Everyone involved claims that the most influential figures in history begins in the 16th century with tea master sen, also known as Rikyu.
The tea ceremony is an English term used to describe "Chado" the whole preparation, serving and drinking of matcha which is a powdered green tea. The literal translation of "Chado" is way of the tea!
Widely popular by the Tang Dynasty the Chinese tea plant camellia sinensis which was a native plant on the mainland of China and south East Asia, quickly spread to Korea and Japan. The earliest records show tea being used a drink to be brewed dates back to the 10th century BCE. This is also when the caffeine was starting to be craved as it couldn't be obtained from anywhere else.
Tea was taken originally from China to the other Asian countries on its borders and beyond by imperial order in the year 816. Tea plantations were cultivated by the Buddhist Zen and then eventually through nobility making tea a very important status symbol. The tea was brewed very much how we enjoy it today by powdering the dried leaf called Match. Add hot water and whisk to mix together. This was used as a beverage to keep the monks awake and alert during their long days of prayer. Then it was made as an offering to Buddha.
Tea drinking spread quickly from royalty to people like the elite samurai. The tea ceremony was evolved at a period in time when both men and women wore the kimono. This form of dress is still kept as the traditional formal costume for taking tea.
The kimono was developed over time specifically for those who developed the tea. Many of the movements like simply moving the long sleeves out of the way or straightening the kimono upon standing still exist today. It is also still taught to students how to move while wearing a kimono when performing a tea ceremony. Tradition speaks as loud as the actual tea itself in China today.