The Korean tea ceremony or darye is a traditional form of tea ceremony practiced in Korea. Darye literally refers to “etiquette for tea”or “day tea rite” and has been kept among Korean people for a few thousand years. Tea ceremonies have always been used for important occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, remembrance of old friends, and increasingly a way to rediscovering the joys of Seon meditation. There are at least 15 major tea ceremonies that are performed.
Generally the best local water is used to make the tea, and at times some of the best Korean teahouses had their own small springs. Water is brought to boil above a wood fire, poured into a teapot and brought immediately to service. Tea is poured initially by a tea hostess into warmed cups from a heated teapot at a distance above the first cup so as to create a controlled flow of tea with attractive bubbles. This is done to create good luck.
One of the modern variations of the Korean tea ceremony involves a low tea table around which the guests and master sit. The tea master or host will sit on one side and will heat and pour and clean the tea ware as part of the whole ceremony from start to finish. The host or master will often keep all the tea ware on the tea table all year, and will cover it with a cloth while not using it. The collection is often made up of several different teapots, often with many different color & shape teacups. The ceremony begins with all the guests sitting around the table and as the water heats the host will begin the conversation, usually with informal or casual questions, such as asking about the guests family. After heating and pouring the tea the guests will wait until the host or master picks up their cup first, then will pick up theirs. This whole procedure sometimes can last for several hours. But the whole ceremony is very relaxing and is a wonderful way to get to know someone or to ease into a business transaction.