How can you not have matcha tea when you are in one of the best green-tea producers in Japan?
Daisuke brought us to this tearoom in Fujieda. The place consists of a tearoom, a shop and restaurant. It also houses an impressive Japanese garden and a koi pond.
Tearoom Hyogetsu-tei is known for serving gyokuro and matcha tea. The gyokuro tea leaves are covered for the minimum of two weeks before harvest to increase amino acids and reduce tannin. This process enhances the sweet and unique taste of the tea.
After a short tour around the area, we then proceeded to the ceremony. The tea ceremony is much more than just drinking the tea. The focus of the ceremony is the aesthetics of the refined movements while making the tea. There is an order to which you need to follow carefully.First, the mizusashi (water jug) is brought into the room. It is then placed next to the furo (burner). The chawan (tea bowl) and natsume (tea container) are carried into the room and placed in front of the mizusashi. The Chawan contains the chakin (white linen cloth), chasen (bamboo whisk) and chashaku (tea scoop). Kensui (waste water jar) with hishaku (water ladle) is placed in front of the knees with the hishaku parallel to the guest.
The tea utensils are displayed in the daisu with the portable burner (furo) on the left. The ladle stand is placed at the back in front of the kensui in front and mizusashi on the right side.
Before the ceremony started, our Teishu greets us with a bow. We also bowed in return.
Hachi (sweets) are eaten first before drinking the tea.
The right hand is used to pick up the natsume and place it between the knees and the chawan. The natsume is placed in front of the mizusashi. The left hand is used to remove the fukusa (silk cloth). There was also a method how to hold and wipe the natsume but I forgot exactly how.
The fukusa is also used to clean the chashaku. After it has been cleaned, the chashaku is placed on the natsume. The chasen is taken out of the chawan and placed next to the natsume. Chawan is brought closer to the knees.
The matcha is scooped in the heated chawan. Hot water was later poured into it after it was powdered. The matcha is whisked until froth forms and served to the guests. There is also a proper method of receiving the tea.
The tea ceremony involved a lot of movements and transfers of utensils. Our teishu was very graceful in showing us most of the steps and guiding us throughout the process.
A visit in a tea house is definitely a must when you are in Japan. You will experience an elegant ceremony that has been practiced hundred of years ago. Not only you get to enjoy the matcha but this is also a great way to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture.