Frothy or no? Last tea of 2009

Urasenke style bowl of tea

One of the challenges in planning and implementing public programs is making sure we have appropriate images to represent our programs, sometimes a frustrating and time-consuming process. The image being used to promote our upcoming tea program is not correct.

What’s wrong with this picture? The tea programs on Nov. 14 feature presentations by members of the Omotesenke tradition of tea. In the Omotesenke tradition, tea is prepared using many of the same utensils as any other Japanese tea lineage, but the tea is not whisked quite so vigorously as others might (for example the image above, which shows an Urasenke-style bowl of tea). Rather, Omotesenke style tea is blended more gently and has less froth on the top. I searched Google images for a more appropriate picture and I found only a few, such as this one in ceramic artist Cory Lum’s Flickr stream. I will need to be sure to take our own picture of an Omotesenke bowl of tea next week so we can have one readily available for future programs. Or if there are any Omotesenke practitioners out there who have rights to a good image you are willing to let us use, please let me know.

Want to know how to prepare a bowl of tea at home? Come to our workshop on November 14. On that same day you may also attend a tea gathering where you will be served a sweet and bowl of tea at the museum’s tearoom. This is our last tea of 2009 and thus is special in the annual tea calendar. It is a time to reflect on the past year and consider all the things you might like to complete before the new year, people you want to see, and make preparations to ensure that the coming year isĀ  a good one.


Tea bowl by Nonomura Ninsei (1615-1700) Stoneware with polychrome enamel decoration. Gift of the Connoisseurs' Council and Bruce and Betty Alberts, 1991.230.

It is also a time when people use utensils with images of the twelve animals from the Chinese zodiac, such as this bowl with a dragon image. We are in the year of the Ox and are coming up to the year of the Tiger on February 14, 2010. People will have lots of fun bringing out their utensils with tiger motifs in particular since that is the year ahead. Although Japan has adopted the Western calendar and celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1, there are still many traditions that are linked to the Chinese calendar system which is based on the lunar cycle. Here is an article about the tea calendar.

6 Responses to “Frothy or no? Last tea of 2009”

  1. Nancy  on November 8th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I am a dreadful philistine. The one time I sipped tea at a tea ceremony I found it so bitter that I wanted to ask for milk and sugar. I didn’t – I’m not that rude but I realized that there was a huge cultural divide between those who grew up drinking tea the Western way and those who grew up drinking tea the Japanese way. Or, at least, a divide between me and those who are more accustomed to drinking tea in the Japanese tea ceremony.

  2. Ana  on November 9th, 2009 at 6:49 am

    One experience we have in common!

    I drink tea strong and plain, and Matcha was still a shock. Is the ceremony meant to compensate for the hardship of drinking the brew?

  3. edeb  on November 9th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Yes, matcha is an acquired taste, like coffee, beer, dark chocolate, and sushi were for me the first time I had them. And not all matcha is the same. There are a range of tea blends and tastes and some are more bitter than others. Getting the proportions and water temperature correct is important too. Eating a sweet before you have matcha prepares your palette for the astringent flavor as well. So you may never love it, but most certainly wont if you don’t try it again sometime. Let me know if you would like to come for tea.

  4. Ana  on November 12th, 2009 at 6:59 am

    I am a long way from San Francisco, but not too far from a reasonably good tea shop and means to take your advice. [“Mellow Matcha, please!”]

    Is there a particular prepatation you are using to ease newbies into the taste?

  5. xensen  on November 12th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    It’s nice to have you as a virtual visitor, Ana!

    Are you in Bucharest, like it sounded from a previous comment?

  6. Ana  on November 15th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Bucharest? Yes!

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