The woman pictured on the left apprenticed for 5 years to become a tea ceremony master. She has been doing tea ceremonies for 50 years. She will turn 70 this year. I tell you this to give you an idea of how important this ceremony is to the Japanese culture and how involved it is.
It was amazing how much time and care they took to share this ceremony with us. There were four women and one man who prepared and served the tea.
The servers would appear at the door on their knees, then slide in on their knees, sliding themselves forward with their arms.
Before the tea was served they came around with two platters of sweet treats. They gave each participant a piece of paper to put their treats on. Each person took one sweet treat from each platter. Participants were encouraged to eat their sweet treats while they waited for the tea.
Once the tea was ready each cup was brought in separately and served to each participant. The person presenting the tea positioned themselves in front of the person being served the tea. Before handing the tea over to the recipient the server, holding the tea in the right hand and supporting the tea cup underneath in the left hand, would turn the tea twice to the right. The server and recipient would both bow to each other, then the recipient would take the tea in right hand, supporting the cup underneath with the left hand, then turn the cup twice to the right once more before drinking it.
They were very gracious taking our questions and taking ample time to answer them.
We felt very honored to have the privilege of participating in this event.