So yesterday I went to a “Japanese Tea Drinking” event at the Jordan River Foundation. We drank something called “Matcha” – it’s almost fluorescent green, has small bubbles in it, and bears no resemblance at all to Green tea. The ‘tea masters’ – i think that’s what there’re called – explained how it was prepared, how the leaves were selected, softened and ground, and how a bit like wine they were left to mature for several months or sometimes years.
That said Japanese tea-drinking isn’t really about the tea. It’s about the preparation. Our Kimono clad guides explained how the host would never drink or eat before guests, but would instead dedicate themselves to providing for their needs. They spoke about the history of tea drinking, and how, according to them, even today many Japanese people see it as perhaps the most authentic route into discovering their culture.
In short, there’s an art to tea-drinking – we were told it was about being silent, revealing oneself through the intricate and subtle art of the ceremony (perhaps whether you want to or not) as well as forgetting the world outside.
I’d always thought there was a strong element of hierarchy and formality involved in these tea rites but apparently ‘Matcha’ is quite a famous exception, designed after decades of feuding to level social distinctions, even if it was principally drank among soldiers….
Thanks to the JRF for this event. How about next time…. swords!! 😉