Soku Tea Serving

The Soku is the leader for serving tea in the zendo during a sesshin with the help of a second server.


  • Ahead of time, prepare 2 trays of cups.  Put out two tea pots out in the kitchen.  Have a hot mitten and a cloth towel for drips for each pot.
  • 40 minutes before tea service time, heat water in a kettle (do not heat water in the tea pots). Put mild fruit tea in the tea pots (5 bags in each). Prepare cookies/fruit in muffin cups, place with napkins on 2 trays.
  • 10 minutes before tea service, pour hot water into the tea pots. Take tea pots (use hot mittens) drip towels, and trays of cookies to the zendo.
  • At time for service, the Soku steps into the zendo, does a roll-down with clappers, and announces “Prepare for tea ceremony.”
  • Each of the two servers takes a tray with cups. Starting with those closest to the altar, do a standing bow between two people to offer them cups, first to the one closest to the altar. After they take the cups, do another standing bow. Then move on to the next two people and repeat.
  • Then each of the servers serves a tray of cookies in the same way.
  • Finally each server takes a pot of tea with a hot mitten and towel for drips and serves tea in the same way. Keep the tea pot lid up.
  • When done, the Soku hits the clappers to begin eating and drinking. Wait off stage until the majority of people are finished with tea (about 6 minutes).
  • Then the Soku says “If you would like seconds of tea, please hold up your cup when we come to you.” Servers go around again using the same procedure.
  • After about 5 minutes, the Soku announces for people to put their cup upside down on their napkin or muffin cup to keep for the next day, or, if it is the last tea ceremony of the sesshin, the servers pick up the cups, muffin cups, and napkins using the same procedure.
  • The Soku hits the clappers to mark the end of the tea ceremony.