Thanks to the awesome team at Trazy.com, an English-friendly tour booking website here in Korea, I was able to experience and participate in a traditional tea ceremony. I’ve been in love with tea since a young age after reading a Sailor Moon manga in 4th grade mentioning chamomile tea. I immediately went out with my grandmother to get some and from there, it’s history. Also, I have always loved the different ceremonies surrounding tea in so many different countries, so of course I jumped at the chance to try out a Korean styled ceremony.
The tea ceremony is held at the Traditional Korean Tea Institute in the Bukchon Hanok village. I hadn’t been to this specific hanok village before, so I was a bit worried about getting lost. As it turns out, the institute was actually super easy to find. The tea cups and pots on the outside of the building made it hard to miss.
As soon as you step in the door, the wall is covered in information about tea and the history behind tea ceremony. You step into what would be considered the courtyard area of the house and one of the instructors helps you into a traditional dress that is worn for tea ceremonies. The ceremonial robe was similar to a hanbok, which I’ve been able to wear before, but a bit looser. As this is a traditional ceremony, everyone sits on the floor.
Traditional Snack Making
The experience starts off with a nice cup of green tea while you get to know the instructor a bit. Today, our instructor is Professor Seo Eunju, whose family has been teaching and performing the traditional tea ceremony for over one hundred years.
After enjoying the first glass of tea, you get to make traditional Korean tea snacks. There were four different flavors: pumpkin, strawberry, green tea and a powder made out of something similar to pollen from a pine tree. These are pressed into a wooden shape called a ddol, which has various traditional patterns. There are a range of sizes and you have to put a good bit of pressure on the little balls of dough. While I call them dough, they’re similar to a rice cake texture.
In this experience, you keep the snacks you make and are given an adorable Korean “Lucky Bag” to put them in. If you chose the larger designs, don’t choose the ones that are super detailed unless you are planning to spend a ton of time! I chose a leaf for one of mine, which didn’t seem that hard, but it ended up like a cabbage!
The Tea Ceremony
Once the snacks are finished, Professor Seo prepared another cup of tea, this time with matcha powder. The difference in the flavor and texture of green tea leaves versus matcha are really something to experience if you love tea. The smell and taste were very refreshing.
To begin the ceremony, you sit down at a small table that has a drawer. There is a very specific way you need to remove and place the items, so be very careful to pay attention. Unlike other tea ceremonies, the Korean ceremony is very comfortable and relaxed. It’s focused on relaxation and enjoying your time. So, make sure you sit in a way that’s comfortable for you to sit in for a while. In our experience, as there were only two of us and the professor, we did the ceremony around three times, and drank the tea ourselves.
Typically, you serve the tea to the guests, but as we had no guests, we just drank it all. No complaints here! The tea used in the actual ceremony is called yellow tea, and personally I feel it was lighter in flavor than green tea. While drinking the tea, you repeat three things “I am precious. I am important. I am treating myself today.” At first I felt a bit silly repeating it, but honestly, this experience is a great way to treat yourself and relax.
One of the things I enjoyed most is how you use the leftovers for a foot or hand massage. After you finish your massage, the experience is sadly over and you will have to head back out into bustling Seoul. During the ceremony, it’s so calm and relaxing that you almost forget you’re in one of the largest cities in the world.
Now It’s Your Turn
I want to thank Trazy again for this amazing, relaxing experience. The ceremony takes around an hour or so. This leaves you plenty of time to go out and explore the rest of the hanok village before heading back into the real world.
Check out our other Trazy adventures below!
This experience was sponsored by Trazy, but all opinions are our own.