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For a cup of green tea

The next time you sip your cup of tea with proprietorial bliss, look east. Tea-drinking is as much a part of Japanese culture.

The International Institute of Language and Culture (IILC) in BD block recently hosted a workshop for its students to showcase the famed Japanese tea ceremony. The workshop was conducted by delegates of the Japan Foundation — Kei Ko Maruyama from Gifu and Nagisa Kataoka from Nagoya, Japan.

“We want our students to be well- versed in Japanese culture,” said Debanjan Ghosh, director of IILC.

The tea ceremony holds a special place in Japanese culture. The host spends days going over every detail to make sure that the ceremony is perfect. There are various styles of tea ceremonies. The ceremony takes place in a room called the Chashitsu which is usually located away from the residence in the garden. Guests are seated according to their hierarchical positions. Once the host seats himself, greetings are exchanged between the host and the chief guest, and then the other guests.

Brewing a ritual

The tea ceremony is called Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese. There is a choreography in the ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha. With it is served traditional Japanese sweets called Okashi to balance with the bitter taste of the tea.

The host enters carrying the tea bowl that holds the tea whisk, the tea cloth and the tea scoop. The host goes to the preparation room, and returns with the waste water bowl, the bamboo water ladle and a green bamboo rest for the kettle lid.

The host purifies the tea container and tea scoop with a fine silk cloth. He fills the tea bowl with hot water and rinses the whisk. Three scoops of tea per guest is put in the tea bowl. He pours hot water from the kettle into the bowl and uses the whisk to make a thin paste. The host passes the tea bowl to the main guest first who bows and accepts it. The main guest admires the bowl by raising and rotating it. He then drinks some of the tea, wipes the rim of the bowl, and passes it to the next guest who does the same thing.

When all the guests have tasted the tea, the bowl is returned to the host who rinses the utensils. Afterwards the group engages in conversation about the objects used in the tea ceremony and the presentation that took place.

“This experience was one of a kind,” said young Anushri Mondal, a student. “It not only exposed us to a different culture but also highlighted the patience and hospitality of the Japanese,” said Anushri’s mother.