Tea House Garden
An authentic Japanese teahouse, presented in a uniquely Californian tea garden, is nestled among the magnificent coast live oaks and natural rock outcroppings at the bottom of the Arroyo Section. A tea garden, or roji, functions as a transitional space between the hectic everyday world and a realm of beauty and serenity where the tea ceremony is experienced.
These small gardens are designed to blend with their natural surroundings and connect man to nature. You enter the garden through a simple bamboo gate, which separates the inner and outer gardens, and follow a winding path to the teahouse.
Traditional stonework forms the skeleton of a tea garden, with many individual stones having specific names, placement and functions. During the tea ceremony the host's first act is to bring water, and the guest's is to purify himself by the ritual washing of hands. A small stone basin, or tsukubai, is provided for this purpose.
The use of California native plants in a Japanese garden design makes this garden distinctive. Beautiful specimens of sculptural manzanita, madrone, and Port Orford cedar, along with low-growing, large-leaved plants such as wild strawberry and giant chain fern create a beautiful, contempletive space. Plants with bright flowers are generally avoided in preference for moss, ferns, and evergreens.
Our teahouse was given the name ShinKanAn, meaning "Look Through the Heart," by the 15th Oiemoto (Grand Master) of the Urasenke Tea School. Rustic teahouses such as ours are central to traditional Japanese tea culture, or Cha-do. It is currently used for authentic chanoyu tea ceremony, events, and classes.
The teahouse was originally built in Kyoto, Japan in 1949 as a gift for Santa Barbara businessman Royce Greatwood and shipped to his Hope Ranch home. The teahouse was donated to the Botanic Garden in 1998 by the John H. Esbenshade family, with the help of the Santa Barbara-Toba Sister City Organization. This generous donation ensured that this unique teahouse will be preserved and appreciated by visitors for years to come.
For information about the location of a display within the Garden please see the map below.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden fosters the conservation of California's native plants through our gardens, research and education, and serves as a role model of sustainable practices.