I’ve served in an all-day tea event before at Ichibata Yakushi Temple by carrying the tea and sweets (o-hakobi), but the Matsue Castle Grand Tea Ceremony is one of the Top 3 (all three share this title, no one thing is chosen as Number 1) tea gatherings in Japan. Although I had done part of the preparing of the tea (o-temae) for my tea school’s private Hatsugama (New Years tea ceremony), this was my first time doing it in front of strangers–up to 50 of them at a time, though we served hundreds of people in one day.

My debut went really fast. I was supposed to have taken 15 minutes because I was only preparing the cup for the first guest, while all the others were being prepared by a team in the back, but I doubt I even took 10 minutes! I had a couple minor mistakes, but nothing worth fretting over. After all, I can hardly remember what happened.

It was so busy we often had overflow seating just dropping by for some quick tea and wagashi.

I’ll recap my serving experience a bit first, and then share a little about when I just went around as a guest the day before and tried out some other schools of tea!