My fascination with Japanese tea ceremony was kindled in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. Though very young at the time, I visited a small wooden teahouse in the Japanese pavilion and immediately became fascinated with the ritual of tea, teaware, and the distinct flavor of Matcha. Many years later, I visited Japan with my husband, a professor of Japanese and Chinese art history, and learned how easily tea can transcend a language barrier.

 

A Japanese Tea Memory

by Laura Childs

 

On a visit to Japan my true passion for tea was finally realized. Not just through sipping different teas and broadening my tea-tasting horizons, but experiencing a number of serendipitous tea moments. One of my most special memories involves traveling on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto on Christmas Day. I was deep into a book and hypnotized by the motion of the fast-moving train when my husband suddenly touched my arm and told me to look up. I lifted my head and there, directly out the window, was a spectacular, terraced tea garden with Mt. Fuji in the background. The bright, verdant green of the tea terraces shone like neon against the white snows of Fuji, like a color photo pushed to the max. Later, I learned that there are dozens of tea gardens outside the city of Fujinomiya and that several of the local bath houses even offer tea baths. I decided it must be heavenly to steep in a warm, bubbling brew of fresh-picked tea leaves. No agony of the leaves here, just tired muscles unkinking, while tea leaves tickle pink skin and release their sweet, earthy aroma.

Later, while wandering the ancient, narrow streets of Kyoto, marveling at the temples, gardens and tori gates, my husband and I got hopelessly lost. A woman from a small tea shop noticed our wandering and beckoned us inside to take a seat.  We sat down, a little dazed and travel-worn, and were utterly delighted when she produced cups of bright green tea along with fresh-baked yams. Though she spoke no English and we were woefully lacking in our Japanese language skills, a bond of friendship quickly formed.

Laura Childs Bio

 

Laura Childs is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese and Japanese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs. Find out more about the author and her books at www.laurachilds.com