If you get the opportunity to be a part of a traditional tea ceremony in Japan, then take it. Carly and I were fortunate enough to have one sprung upon us on our last day staying with a Japanese lady – Kazuko. She had quietly organised her friend to come around, who didn’t speak a word of English and who had been learning about tea ceremonies for over 40 years, and introduce us to a very traditional experience – so we managed to avoid any kind of tourist trap.Ochakai, which is the simple Japanese tea ceremony, is influenced, so I have now learnt, by Sennorikyu – a man who will now always be known as the matcha man in my head because it’s much easier to remember. The whole ceremony follows a pretty strict procedure of laying out various instruments, whisking matcha in certain ways, eating sweet chestnuts in certain ways and even sipping from a bowl after turning it twice one way and twice the other after you’ve finished. It’s all very elaborate and incredibly interesting to participate in and learn about so I’d highly recommend finding an authentic one.
The kind lady also gave Carly and I all the equipment needed, tea and matcha bowl included, to be able to do it ourselves.