I had the privilege of participating in our school’s tea ceremony class this week. In the video above, Maki sensei explains how to mix the matcha or powdered green tea. The ritual is very Zen, being brought to Japan 1,300 years ago from China. Each movement must be performed just so and is kind of a form of meditation. The idea of slowing down the mind and focusing on a mundane activity, lifting it to an act of beauty and calmness. I see it as a way of slowing down one’s life so it can seem longer.
The students were very patient and kind with my bumbling of folding of the napkin. Our school has a traditional tatami (tightly bound straw mats) room and it is used for such occasions. The first day Maki sensei wore a kimono, which is such a beautiful formal dress for women. We didn’t get to even see the tea on the first class, which is very Zen. On the second day we finally got to drink some warm tea.
Matcha tea is bitter and so it is always accompanied with a sweet. The rubbery but pleasant mochi wrapped around a sweet bean paste center, made a nice combination with the tea.
I have a long way to go before I master the movements of the tea ceremony. Maki sensei studied for 10 years to become a sensei (teacher). We are fortunate to have her on campus. She teaches a tea ceremony class for SIS seniors and runs an after school club for high school students which is open to students from both schools. I would like to organize a workshop for OIS high school students with her sometime this spring.
A huge thank you to Maki sensei and the SIS seniors for allowing me to share the experience! I feel a bit closer to understanding this complex and different culture, al