I arrived at work today to discover that there would be a Japanese tea ceremony event, in English at the end of my shift. This is part of why I love my job! It’s happened to me before with a wine tasting- yes I got to drink at work, isn’t my life awesome? The woman who was running the tea ceremony was Japanese, and has a tea house right near to my apartment. She does a fantastic explanation, demonstration, and then shows you how to make your own- in perfect english. So if you’re ever in kyoto and want to check out traditional tea ceremony then go to her! (Links below).
First, she told us all about the different kinds of tea ceremony, and how they got their names, and she invited us all to ask questions along the way. Turns out, she has been studying tea ceremony for 20 years! But more than that, she says it will take her another 20 years before she can be considered a ‘Master’! I never knew there was so much to know about tea. All I know is that you put the bag in before the milk 😉
Then she began her beautiful demonstration. The precise and elegant movements really reminded me of classical ballet. She later said that many foreigners make that comparison. I was lucky enough to have sat in the place of the ‘guest of honour’, which meant she actually made the tea for me! It tasted wonderful- even though I really felt the caffeine hit me when I was finished. If you didn’t know already, matcha green tea has a very high caffeine content!
The ceremony was very complicated, but is made to look very simple and graceful. I later asked if she knew how many individual movements there were in one ceremony; “Ah! Actually, I have counted! I wondered this myself… 74!”. 74!? You must understand the ceremony itself was maybe 5 minutes, but so much happens in that time!
Next was our chance to make our own tea (more caffeine for me!!). We all had our own tea bowl, sweet, and stirrer-thingy (I forget the name…).
Then we were given some ground matcha tea leaves- and they are so green! People often ask if the color is added artificially because it is so bright!
Then, hot water was added and we had to whip the tea, not stir, until we had a nice layer of foam on top (like a cappucino). Aparently I was quite good at this step. So much so, that I got too caught up in my own brilliance that I forgot to take a photo…
The tea was lovely, and the instructor was fabulous. Also, turns out her boyfriend is a game programmer and actually designed the home screen background on the PS3!
Thank you Atsuko!