Hello Steepster! I have been away from you for a few days, with the business of last week’s moving to the new half of the office plus a 2 day conference for work, and yard work on Saturday. But I have returned, and had a wonderful tea experience yesterday!
I found out that the botanical gardens near my city host Japanese tea ceremonies. This year they are only offering them on 4 days, and yesterday was the first 4, and on top of that, the only day that offered ceremonies in the small tea room (Ro ceremony). Only 5 people are allowed to partake in this ceremony due to room size restraints, so me, my boyfriend, and 3 other people partook in this special event. Matcha tea was prepared in the traditional method with a whisk and a unique bowl for each person, and we ate a sweet (wagashi) before drinking the tea to complement the tea. We were also shown the way to drink matcha in a ceremony, with the turning of the bowl so as to not drink from the front of it, and the etiquette of drinking tea before the person to your left. It was a truly beautiful experience, and the room was absolutely lovely and simple, one scroll on the wall with a simple flower arrangement as the only focal points in the room other than the kettle, a large cast iron one that was sunk in the middle of the floor (in the hearth). This room also had authentic Tatami mats, while the larger one for larger ceremonies had synthetic.
Oh, and the matcha was fantastic! Enough for 3.5 gulps, and it went perfectly with the wagashi! I thought about asking where they sourced their matcha, but was enjoying the ceremony too much to want to bother with questions that might infringe on my sense of tranquillity.
Overall, a beautiful, relaxing experience that I highly recommend if you ever get the chance to experience a tea ceremony. I would love to do one again sometime, and feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to partake in such a lovely event! My boyfriend also enjoyed it immensely. I also learned the 4 principles of Japanese tea ceremonies: harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity. I felt all 4 of these principles and it was wonderful! Afterwards we wandered through the botanical gardens, even though it was snowing, and a lovely feeling of peace settled over me. A great way to spend a Sunday morning!