I attended a wonderful tea party this past weekend—complete with hats and gloves, fun games, interesting women, a little poetry, and an astounding array of delicious food—decadent quiche, little sandwiches, salads, scones and treats. The works, I tell ya! (I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the food!) There was also iced tea and hot tea. I had both—it was warm out (we were outdoors in a lovely garden) but I wanted a china tea cup, so I had hot tea first (gloves on) and then switched to iced tea (gloves off.) I’ve no idea if this was proper glove-tea etiquette or not.
I was invited because of Giant Pumpkin Suite. There’s a Japanese tea ceremony in the book and the host wondered if I would come and talk about it. Now, the Japanese tea ceremony is not a tea party—it is, in fact, something else entirely. I wasn’t sure I could do it justice speaking about it on my own.
So I asked if I could bring my friend Satomi who helped me learn about the tea ceremony and endlessly advised and proofed for all of the many details.
The night before, I texted Satomi and said, “Do you have gloves and hat to wear to the tea party?”
In the morning I woke up to her text: I’m now thinking about trying on my mom’s old kimono that I brought last time I visited Japan. Would that be formal enough?
It took her an hour to dress. Wearing a kimono is not like wearing a bathrobe—it is a very intricate process to get dressed! Layers and layers, many ties and folds, and more layers—it is not unlike the tea ceremony in terms of process. Beautiful, slow, full of meaning, history, and tradition.
I drove with the air-conditioning on full-blast so she wouldn’t melt before we got there. And I was so glad she came—she spoke so eloquently about the history of the tea ceremony and how it is used today in Japanese society.
I am filled with gratitude for Satomi’s help with “Chapter 14: The Way Of Tea”—I knew nothing about the tea ceremony when we began and she patiently walked me through the many details several times. It was such an interesting process to write about. Difficult to describe and not make it a sixty page chapter! If you’d like to watch a tea ceremony you can watch here. It is very relaxing!
We had a ball on Saturday. Thank you to the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of TTN for a lovely day!
Also, this is Satomi’s mother. My fictional Mrs. Kiyo is named after her. She lives in Tokyo and Satomi says she’s delighted with Giant Pumpkin Suite even though she does not read English (and it is not yet translated into Japanese!)