Afternoon Tea | June 28, 2016 | Drink
Way of tea:
The Japanese tea ceremony
Tea ceremonies are a carefully choreographed study in etiquette and aesthetics, inspiring a way of thinking which is fast disappearing in our rushed world.
Join us to celebrate the five steps of the Japanese way of tea – we’ve taken the essence of each step and paired it with Wedgwood’s tea ranges to create a modern experience with traditional roots.
Image source: Japanese Tea Ceremony by Toyohara Chikanobu/Wikipedia
Step 1: Preparation
First things first: a tea ceremony needs to draw on the wisdom of its host. Tools must be chosen, tatami mats prepared and the room is picked – although tea is taken in the garden if it’s summertime.
Take tea at home: Think like a guest. Arrange fresh flowers, clean linen and add soft background music to create a harmonious, welcoming environment. The Cuckoo collection creates a delicately pretty scene with its Orient-inspired designs, taken from the Wedgwood archive and used in a fresh, modern way.
Step 2: Guests arrive
Guest etiquette is important too – shoes are removed, hands are washed and they wait for a signal before entering the room. Bowing is common as a sign of respect, then an explanation of the ceremony serves as a welcome.
Take tea at home: Make sure your guests have everything they need. Layering co-ordinating tableware is the perfect way to create a unified look – but without the intense formality of the authentic ceremony. Butterfly Bloom cups, saucers and plates are all beautifully different, enabling you to mix and match as creatively as you wish.
Step 3: The cleaning
Think of the cleaning as if it’s a dance. Everything is graceful – no movements or words which work against the harmony of the gathering are used. Once cleaned, tools are displayed artistically.
Take tea at home: From the clink of spoon against teacup to the soft splash of a sugar lump into perfectly-steeped tea, the way we ‘perform’ our own afternoon tea has a unique soundtrack of its own. Bone china is much tougher than you might think: stack freely and display on an open shelf.
Step 4: The tea is served
Matcha green tea is used at Japanese tea ceremonies and is usually added to the bowl (three scoops) before hot water is ladled on top. A paste is formed and then more water added. When the tea is ready it is served to the main guest, bows are exchanged, the bowl is admired, rotated and sipped from. Then it is wiped and passed onto the next guest.
Take tea at home: Wedgwood’s extensive range of teas has something for everyone. For this occasion, try the 1810 Japan Pattern tea caddy from the Taste of History collection. The Parapet tea combines mild green tea with the sweetness of sun-ripened tropical fruits and the scattered flower blossoms add another level of visual appeal.
Step 5: The completion of the ceremony
After the tea is enjoyed, the host cleans the bowl, along with all the tools used in preparation. The guests inspect every item as a sign of respect and leave the room following a final bow. The way of tea is as much an art, spiritual ritual and time for reflection as it is about a gathering of friends to share a drink.
Take tea at home: Both tea and crockery are fantastic gift ideas. If your afternoon tea is a celebration of a special moment, choose a themed piece and a tea to match it with, then present your guests with a goodie bag to take away. They’ll be able to re-create their own tea ceremony and they’ll be thinking of you every time they steep their tea.