Our host Momoko has a friend in the neighborhood who performs tea ceremonies and was kind enough to host us. Tea ceremonies are pretty extensively documented, and I’m not an expert by any means, so I will mostly just relay our experiences.
The ceremony was held in a tea house, a separate, smaller structure from the main house, with a view of the garden.
We were first offered sweets, and then whisked matcha tea. Momoko showed us how to drink – something along the lines of hold up the bowl, turn the bowl, drink, turn the bowl again, and then bow.
Given that Theo was handed a bird whistle partway through the ceremony, I’m pretty sure that we were attending an informal tea gathering (chakai), rather than a formal tea ceremony (chaji). Which, given our level of competence (and Theo’s level of energy), was probably a good thing.
It was lovely and fascinating, and it probably would have been even more relaxing had I not been in active parent mode.
In some of the (small amount) of research I’d done prior to the ceremony, I’d heard that enjoying the courtesy of back and forth with one another is one of the main pleasures of the tea ceremony. We very much felt ourselves the recipients of this courtesy – from the sweets and the tea itself, to the accommodation of our child, to the many unexpected gifts plied upon us.
When I suggested (a few times) in the days following the ceremony that I might send a gift back to the host of the tea ceremony, I was told firmly no, that it had been their pleasure to host us. (Our hosts did promise to pass along our “feelings,” however.)
We’ve found so much kindness all over the world. This is just a particularly vivid, compressed example of it.