Annual tea ceremony serves Japanese culture
December 10, 2008 1:43 PM
On Nov. 15, Midori McKeon, professor of Japanese, hosted her annual Japanese Tea Gathering in Humanities 117.
From the outside, the room looks like a regular classroom, but once one steps into Humanities 117 they see an authentic tea house. According to McKeon, the tea house was donated by Adachi Industries in 1991, and is worth an estimated $100,000. McKeon said that she honors the donor every year by using the teahouse during International Education Week.
McKeon was dressed in a traditional kimono as she greeted her six guests. The gathering began with McKeon delivering a brief introduction on why tea gatherings were important and how each gathering is unlike any other. Patrons are then instructed to enter the tea house one by one after removing their shoes.
After getting settled on the tatami mats the host enters the room. “We will perform what is called chanoyu. We prepare in front of the guests a bowl of tea including cleansing the utensils in front of them.” Hot water is prepared in teakettle set in the sunken earth called, raw, and is poured on the powdered matcha. powdered green tea. McKeon says that the tea was airlifted from Kyoto, Japan, and “It’s not available in ordinary grocery shops.”
Before serving the tea, the host offers the guests a sweet. The sweet is a small desert used to prepare the guests' palettes for a hot bowl of tea. The sweet is given on top of a special paper called kaishi. The guests were told to keep the paper with them.
“It was very good. I liked the tea,” Jessica Stewart, a student at SF State, said. “Some people think it’s bitter, but I like it.”
One by one, each guest is given a bowl of hot matcha tea. The tea mistress cleans the utensils in front of the guests before whisking the tea powder and hot water together makes tea. The guests are instructed to turn the bowl’s design to face the host as a sign of respect and youth.
McKeon says that the theme for the ceremony was "autumn." The tea bowls had leaf patterns as well as different colors. McKeon explained the significance of each bowl and how it related to the theme.
When the ceremony had ended, each guest exited the tea house and put their shoes on. Guests thanked McKeon for inviting them to the annual event.
“I think it’s wonderful that San Francisco State is able to introduce people to all the different cultures,” said Thomas Mullaney, college relations officer for the College of Humanities .
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