My friends Jennifer and Suzanne invited me to a night out on the town. She signed us up for one of the free tours through the Community center on-base. We travelled dove to Naha and participated in a tea ceremony. We first received instructions from an actual tea sensei. Then she picked a bunch of us to practice making the tea. Since my friends and I don’t drink tea, we enjoyed hot water (Yuck). However, I enjoy learning about the Japanese culture. The Japanese women served us sweet rice cakes, and you were supposed to eat the whole thing before being served your tea. I had a hard time eating it all. It reminded me of eating play-doh. Not that I really have experience with it, but the texture was just strange! It wasn’t that it tasted bad or anything. Mine was filled with sweet beans and had gold beans on top. Very fancy! I idea was to load up o the sweets before the tea. They don’t put sugar or cream or any such thing in. However, Japanese and American sweet is VERY different!
After we were served tea, it was our turn to make and serve tea. Most of the others had their turn, and I was just going to watch, but my friend gave me the nudge! I decided to be brave and go for it! The sensei knelt down next to me, and watched me make the tea. After ladling out the hot water, I dumped a scoop of green tea leaves into the cup, and whisked away. The whisk looked like a tiny broom, and we were required to whisk 75 times. I whisked until the tea was nice and frothy. I have to admit I lost count. I was a tiny bit nervous. After the others made the tea, the teacher told them who to serve the tea to. However, when I made the tea, the teacher said to our guide in Japanese, “I want her tea, she is very good!” I was a little bit shocked because I have NEVER made ANY kind of tea in my life. I don’t like hot drinks in general. I felt like such a proud student, and the other American’s told me I looked like the poster child. I just giggled about it all!! I think I just had on a cheesy grin the whole time! Everything about it was so intricate, from how you hold the cup to how many times you have to turn it before drinking. The best part was the loud slurp at the end you were supposed to make when you took the last sip. This will be a fun memory of Okinawa for sure!
Me with my cute bunny tea cup!
Suzanne and I with our hot water! Actually Suzanne was served tea first by accident. We had talked with our guide and explained our religious belief to him. I’m sure he thought we were a little funny for signing up for a tea ceremony when we don’t drink tea. However, I think he was grateful after we explained that we wanted learn about the Japanese culture and traditions.
Jennifer being brave and making tea first.
Then, it was my turn!
Making tea is quite the forearm workout! Here I am serving the tea to my Sensei!
She even gave me a big loud slurp!! I guess I didn’t disappoint, or else she was just being polite!!