It’s not every day you can say you played a role in an ancient form of performance art but that is what Yours Truly was earnestly involved in this morning.
Along with two other lucky souls, l was experiencing the wonders of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and taking in the sights, smells and sounds involved in the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha – fine-powdered green tea.
We were sitting in a first floor gallery, within the Museum of East Asian Art, and surrounded – in glass display cases – by many of the objects that would have played a part in what we were experiencing.
In fact the kiln-fired pottery bowls from which we sipped this special brew were recently acquired exhibits to this incredible and colourful collection that is a ‘must-see’ museum attraction located just across the road from the Assembly Rooms.
There are two more tea ceremonies planned for October 26th and November 30th – with more in the offing next year.
It is a wonderful opportunity to experience a carefully drawn-out ritual that allows you to relax and focus on the present.
A real meditation on the moment and an alternative cultural experience to our Western ways of popping two tea bags in a teapot!
We were doing the seated version of the ceremony but often within specially constructed tea rooms the entrance would be deliberately made low so everyone – whatever their status – would be on the same level as they enter and sit on the floor.
A minor detail but pretty mind-blowing for me. The tea is being sipped from bowls. We are so used to threading our finger through a tea cup handle so why isn’t there one?
It’s so simple and obvious when you are told. Because you have to hold the bowl with two hands you will instantly know when the tea is a comfortable temperature to drink.
Now, below is a shortened version of the ceremony we witnessed and – l hope Yukie Scott – our host – and Yukie Williams – the Tea Ceremony Master – won’t be too offended that l have added music to the video l shot.
You won’t get that if you book to see the ceremony but you will have an unforgettable experience.
Check out what’s happening at the Museum of East Asian Art via https://meaa.org.uk/whats-on