This article explores the relationships between ritual, material culture, and political authority in early modern Japan by focusing on the Japanese tea ceremony, a highly formalized socio-cultural activity elaborated from the customs related to the consumption of powdered green tea. The article analyses one of the Tokugawa Shogunate's annual processions, the so-called, ‘Travelling of the Shogun's Tea Jar’ – a ritual developed around the Shogunate's acquisition of its annual stocks of tea – which was formalized as one of the official annual events in the early seventeenth century. It argues that the tea ceremony became a part of routine business in the Tokugawa Shogunate and continued to perform its customary functions in supporting military elite's political life. In turn, the tea ceremony was authorized by shoguns and domain lords through public rituals and regular consumption. Consequently, the tea ceremonial practice was institutionalized in the shogunal administrations, creating a class of tea professionals and generating networks of tea providers. Moreover, the practice of tea was embedded in the everyday life of the warrior elite, both at the national and regional levels, until the final fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868.