Sep 26, 2007


Temae is what we call the procedure for making tea. Literally, temae, is translated as “the point in front.” In other words, do what is front of you – whatever is next in the procedure.

There are many, many ways to make tea – many temae. All of the procedures are quite specific in where to put things and the order in which to do it, how to walk in, where to sit, when and where to turn. The procedures can get quite complicated, with the more advanced procedures taking up to two hours. These procedures must be memorized. No notes are allowed in the tearoom. With all of the temae to be memorized, it can be confusing, but starting at the beginning we build a foundation of body memory. Each successive temae learned builds on the previous one with a few new specific points. Our bodies remember these procedures the more often we do it.

It is said that after doing something 30 times is when our bodies can remember. It is when we overthink what we are doing that we can become confused. I see this in my intermediate students, where the body will naturally begin a movement, the head begins to think, “oh no not that way” and there is a hesitation and then the student will freeze, not knowing whether to trust the mind or the body.

At first, in the tea room, every movement seems awkward, and we have to think very hard about what comes next in the order of making tea. But as the body learns how to move in the tea room, as it learns and memorizes the procedures, we can begin to trust our body and move to a higher level of temae. This higher level is where the mind can concentrate on the guests and what else is going on in the tea room. Sensei would test us by asking us questions while we were making tea. To be able to talk and continue to make tea, we have to trust our bodies to continue with temae while our brain was answering her questions at the same time without getting confused.


  1. Hi from Venezuela! I am an Omotesenke tea Instructor. I Liked very much your blog, I will keep it in my favorites and post your web address in my Web Page and Blog:, which your are welcome to visit and list in your Blogs List. Best Regards, Sandro "Soshin" Oramas

    1. Sandro,
      Thank you for your comment. I have moved the blog to where it continues to today. There are other things on the site like other links to articles, seasonal references, reading material. Thank you for the links on your own blog. I will go and look right now.