Actually, I am an owner of tea house KOTO in Kyoto, so I must say my tea house is the best, but it’s not what I’d like to say here. I will write the point of view from the tea master, which is very different from the people working for tour company or hotels.
The Small group of people in a tea room
Talking about big tea ceremony in the temples or shrines, we accept 20-30 guests at once, because most of them are also people learning tea ceremony or masters. If they know nothing about how to move or greet in a tea room, we can’t have such a big tea ceremony smoothly.
So I recommend you to go in the small group of tea class if you are the beginners. If it’s a big group, maybe the class will be enough to show you the way of tea far from you in a large tea room.
In addition, the traditional tea room is 4 and half tatami mats, not so wide space. It will be more authentic to be in a quiet atmosphere. I really feel my guests learn more authentic Japanese feelings than big group guests.
The tea utensils and the theme of tea ceremony
The tea utensils we have from 10000yen to 1000000yen. It’s rare to use such an expensive utensil for beginner’s tea house, but the price of the tea ceremony often changes by the value of the tea utensils.
I don’t mean more expensive nicer. I think the most important thing is not the price, but the warm heart to welcome the guests.
From the point of tea master’s view, we feel the warm heart to see the utensil just for this moment, just in the season. For example, we enjoy plum blossoms in the early spring, and it change into cherry blossoms in April. After sakura season, we enjoy green maple leaves or iris. Seeing them on the utensils, we feel the host had prepared just for this time.
I guess it’s difficult know before you go….but it’s the authentic tea ceremony.
Is he or she has the qualification for the tea ceremony?
You might think all Japanese can do tea ceremony or it’s of course that staff of the tea house has qualification. But actually, not all tea houses for foreign tourists has the qualification while we need it for sure to teach beginners in Urasenke, one of the big tea ceremony school in Japan. Even if the luxurious hotels in Kyoto introduce or recommend you, it doesn’t mean they must have the license.
If you would like to know the authentic tea ceremony, it’s better to go in the tea house with a tea master.
The quality of powdered green tea and sweets, whether you can drink powdered green tea the master makes or not,… etc many points I’d like to mention.
I’ve heard from the staff of the hotels or people working for tourism that the important point of view for the tourists are the place& the price, and the easy reservation system. I will try my best for them from the point of business, but I’d like to inform the important point of authentic tea ceremony as the tea master as well.