Korean Tea Ceremonies
Tea is one of the most popular drinks in Korea. Tea ceremonies were first held in Korea more than a thousand years ago.
They are still recognised today as special occasions by Buddhist monks and ordinary people.
The ceremonies in Korea are similar to those held in Japan and China but they are not as formal as the ceremonies in Japan. Korean Buddhists monks spend many hours meditating - thinking about their religion and their life. They use the tea ceremony to help them meditate.
Ordinary people also feel that tea ceremonies are spiritual occasions that are closely associated with their religion. 'Tea,' they say, 'is a healthy, enjoyable and stimulating drink, full of good qualities. It reduces loneliness and calms your heart; it is a comfort in everyday life'.
There are tea rooms in most cities and even small towns in Korea where friends can gather and drink tea together.
Many Koreans today still have tea ceremonies for important occasions including special birthdays and anniversaries.
From 1392-1910, tea ceremonies were performed regularly at palaces in Korea. The "Day Tea Rite" was a common daytime ceremony, but the "Special Tea Rite" was reserved for specific occasions, including royal weddings and visits from leaders of other countries.
There was one tea ceremony, however, that the king was not invited to. This was the Queen Tea Ceremony. The only male guest was the crown prince, the eldest son of the Queen. The other guests were female friends, family and servants of the Queen.