The idea of the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Photos from English 2: The Book of Tea, by Rie Ohashi.
This information is from The Book of Tea by Kenshin Okakura, revised by Rie Ohashi in her textbook.
A house of peace
In the Samurai period, when the guest approaches the tea room, if he is a samurai, he will leave his sword outside, because the tea room is a house of peace. Then, he will bend low, and creep into the room through a small door. This procedure is required of all guests - both of high and low status. It is intended to produce a feeling of humility.
The guests, one by one, will silently enter and take their seats, first observing the picture or flower arrangement on the tokonoma (床の間). The host will not enter the room until all the guests have seated themselves, and the room is silent except for the calming note of the boiling water in the iron kettle. The guests themselves have carefully chosen garments of unobtrusive colors. The mellowness of age is over everyone.
Above Ordinary Thoughts
The roji (路地), the garden path which leads from the machiai to the tea room, was designed to support the first stage of meditation – the passage into self-illumination. The roji was designed to break the connection between the tea room and the outside world, and produce a fresh sensation that enables the full enjoyment of aestheticism in the tea room. One who has walked a garden path cannot fail to remember this experience. As one walks in the twilight of the evergreens, over the regular irregularities of the stepping stones covered with dried pine needles, and passes beside the moss-covered granite lanterns, one becomes uplifted above ordinary thoughts. One may be in the middle of a city, but feel as if he were in a forest far away from the dust and din of civilization.
In the tea room repetition is always avoided. The objects that are used to decorate the room should be selected so that no color or design is repeated. If you have a living flower, you should not have a painting of flowers. If you are using a round kettle, the water pitcher should be angular. A cup with black glaze should not be used with a tea caddy of black lacquer. An incense burner should not be placed in the exact center of the tokonoma, because it will divide the space into equal halves. Also, the pillar of the tokonoma should be a different kind of wood from the other pillars.
A Work of Art
Tea is a work of art; it needs a master to bring out its noblest qualities. We have good tea and bad tea, as we have good and bad paintings – generally the latter. There is no single recipe for making the perfect tea. Each preparation of the leaves has its own individuality, its own special relationship with water and heat, its own memories to recall, its own way of telling a story. The truly beautiful must always be in it.