Over the summer, Reese Witherspoon was in Japan as part of her Avon Global Ambassador duties to raise breast cancer awareness. And the lucky girl was treated to a Japanese tea ceremony – and dressed in a traditional kimono. I’m not too sure how traditional it was, because it involved sitting on proper chairs when you’re supposed to kneel – a difficult task for most Westerners when they’re not in a restrictive kimono.
So what should a Japanese tea ceremony entail? I’ve been lucky enough to experience one at a tea shop in Vancouver called T that holds a chadō once a month in their small traditional Japanese tea room within the shop. We crawled into the room, knelt on tatami mats (then switched to a more comfortable position when my kneels cried uncle), and Mrs. Saikaino of the local Urasenke Foundation hosted a “thin tea”, where she explained everything that she did during the short ceremony. A “thick tea” does not allow for talking and can go on for four hours – that I would love to experience once.
There are so many intricate details to the ceremony, but basically it involves making the green tea from a matcha powder, passing around the cup, turning it, and drinking from it. Wikipedia actually has a rather good explanation of the chadō.
To find a Japanese tea ceremony where you are, try contacting your local Urasenke Foundation. The one in New York holds regular demonstrations and classes. And the Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, CA is about to host their annual Hakone Daichakai on October 19 – they’ll have several tea sites hosting thin or thick tea. Register by Oct 10.