The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is important in Japanese culture. There is a full ceremony of preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. Some tea gatherings may resemble English tea in that there are sometimes light snacks and sweets served along with the tea.
We had our own little Japanese Tea Ceremony. Although we decided to not make tatami mats that traditionally cover the floor of Japanese homes, we did find a tablecloth and pillows to sit on and made a low table by reusing a cardboard box covered with a tablecloth. The kids were excited to pull our their fans (only one of them has broken since we bought them!) We used our Japanese folding screens for decoration and the kids dressed in their finest "Japanese-like" costumes. Nicholas dressed as a Ninja and Rachel wore this beautiful oriental outfit that was in some clothes passed down to her from a dear friend.
For our light snacks we enjoyed our imported Japanese foods that we found at World Market. The kids have been bugging me every day to eat their Japanese food!
The pink "Hello Panda" cookies were really tasty. They are sweet little biscuits with a soft strawberry filling inside. The chips were very similar to Cheetos puffs so you know those were a big hit. We found a little red tin that looked like an Oriental food take-out box that had Hello Kitty on it. It was from Japan but the candy inside was just regular candy. The Yan Yan treat were sweet breadsticks with a cup of chocolate to dunk the sticks in. Fun and yummy!
We talked about growing tea, harvesting tea, different types of tea leaves and how they are steeped to make tea. I let Rachel smell the dried white tea leaves but she wasn't impressed and quickly handed them back to me.
In addition to the white tea, I also made an orange flavored herbal tea.
I personally love tea from The Republic of Tea. There are so many wonderful flavors and I love the selection of full loose tea. Loose tea is just as the name implies. It's loose in the tin, not in a tea bag. Loose tea is usually made of full whole leaves whereas tea bags are broken tea leaves or even the powdery, broken leaves left behind by full loose tea leaves. You can steep loose tea in a pot of hot water and then strain the leaves out as you pour your tea. However, if there is tea still in the pot then those leaves will continue to steep. Since some teas should only steep for 2-5 minutes, by leaving the leaves in the pot, your tea may end up being a bit bitter.
Instead I love to use these little teapots that have a filter cup that sits on the top. The loose tea goes in the filter cup then I pour the hot water over the leaves until the pot is full. Once it is finished steeping then I remove the filter cup and the tea can sit in the pot and it won't turn bitter.
Ok, enough of Tea Making 101.
We talked about the difference in color between the two teas and Rachel enjoyed stirring them.
I poured a small cup of each tea for the children to try. Nicholas drank both of his. The orange herbal tea was his favorite and he even asked for seconds as he continued to munch on his Japanese snacks.
Rachel tried one tea but ate all of the Hello Kitty candies and much of the Yan Yan chocolate sticks.
Then she decided that it would be more fun to just crawl around behind our Japanese folding screens.
Of course, Nicholas couldn't resist a little play time too and they chased each other around the screens.
Amazingly, we are still finding time to get our other subjects done like grammar, spelling, math, etc. But there is never as much excitement about doing that work as there is when we are working on Konos.