March 2009

This ceremony was not as rigid as the Japanese Tea Ceremony [Chanoyu] but more formal than the Chinese Tea Ceremony [Chongu Cha].  Kim was very passionate in her presentation of the Korean Way of  Tea or Panyaro, explaining tea is an important part of reclaiming the true heritage of the Koreans.

After the Japanese invaded Korea in 1910, many  traditions and aspects of Korean cultural were lost, systematically wiped out by the invaders.  Some writings survived in remote monasteries and from these historical relics Panyaro, the Korean Way of Tea has been revived.

Hyo Dang initiated the revival and wrote the first full length study of tea in modern Korea. The ceremony is an expression of the graceful way of life with peace and understanding in accompanying each cup of tea.


As with the previous ceremonies, Kim’s costume was beautiful (see the photo below). she knelt for the ceremony and the four guests, myself included tried to remain in the same position. It proved more difficult for all of us!

Each movement was performed slowly and precisely. Kim returned her hands to her lap after each movement.  The tea items were covered with a cloth, red on one side representing the earth and blue on the other, representing the sky.

Hot water in a large teapot was poured into a bowl. The tea cups were each filled with hot water to warm them. Each time the bowl was lifted she used a small napkin to wipe the bamboo scoop before placing the tea into the teapot. The water was removed from the cups and each filled with a small amount of tea. Kim kept going back up the line again until each tea cup was filled.

With the same precise movements Kim placed each cup on a saucer and presented the cup to each of us. When she indicated, we all sipped together.
The cloth was placed on the cups and pots after we had finished our tea, we all bowed and with great relief stretched out our legs!
Here is a photo of me and Kim after the last ceremony.

Tea Lady and Kim Phram after the Korean Way of Tea

What a great day at Selby Gardens and a fantastic experience. So different from the English ritual of taking tea and yet in so many ways the same.  My thought was that regardless of how you take your tea, make it special every time and embrace the moment.  Local Tea Company was a proud sponsor of all three Tea Ceremonies at the Asian Cultural Festival.

The Tea Lady

Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese Tea Ceremony was a much more complex, absorbing and meditative than the Chinese Tea Ceremony [Chongu Cha].  Through tea every human encounter is recognized as a single occasion which cannot be repeated. As such, every aspect of the ceremony must be savored as nothing is permanent.  Seek beauty with your mind and heart and cherish the moment.  Tea culture is “god like” and referred to as Teaism in Japan. 


The ceremony takes place in a designated room, in our case defined by bamboo mats with shoes removed. Kim wore a simple creamy blue kimono.  Usually up to four guests participate, and on Saturday Michael was the honored guest.  He entered the ceremony by crawling through an imaginary tunnel to signify leaving any material items outside of the tea ceremony, as all are equal regardless of status or social position. No words are spoken.


Water is held in a stone jar and touched only by the host. Water represents Yin and the heat of the fire, Yang. The container symbolizes purity.  A sweet is served to the guest as the host uses a fine silk cloth or Fukusa to wipe the ceramic jar.  The Fukusa is carefully folded after each movement and requires a high level of concentration or state of meditation.


The tea bowl and whisk are rinsed and wiped.  The water is poured to represent a waterfall.  The tea, in this case a matcha is scooped and whisked, then presented to the guest with a bow. 


Teaware for Chanoyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony

The tea ware does not match and the tea bowl is usually a cherished item of the host and represents the moon (yin).  It is placed next to the water container which represents the sun (yang).  The bowl is wiped and turned after each guest drinks, though host does not drink any tea.  The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a gift to the guest, a gesture of love or respect.

We had a crowd of well over 100 at the Activity Center at Selby Gardens for the Asian Cultural Festival.  The tea ceremonies were sponsored by Local Tea Company.  Kim answered many questions and was simply fabulous.


Next, I will post notes from the Korean Tea Ceremony soon.


The Tea Lady


This last weekend was the Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens.  The event was packed with uniquely Asian activities; bonsai displays, martial arts performers, taiko drummers, and other dancers.  On Saturday, Local Tea Company sponsored 3 tea ceremonies – Chinese, Japanese and Korean.  I enjoyed all three and participated in the Korean Tea Ceremony.  I’ll share the details here along with a few pictures.

Kim Phram resented all three ceremonies in traditional attire and using proper tea accessories and authentic teas.  She owns Kaleisia Tea Lounge in Tampa.   Kim was fantastic, very knowledgeable and thrilled to share the history and details with all that attended.  Kim is a true student of tea ceremonies.

I will break the details into 3 posts.

Gongfu Cha, the Chinese ceremony was first at 11am.  This style of ceremony is all about the tea, what it tastes like and smells like.  The audience was encouraged to ask questions and Kim talked all the way through describing the ceremony as “tea with friends”.  Each step is meant to be a sensory exploration and appreciation.  A very small un-glazed clay teapot, yixing was filled a third full of tea for multiple, quick infusions. The pot and small drinking cups were all rinsed with boiling water first then the tea was rinsed or flushed.

The first infusion was only 30 seconds.

Kim explained the tea came from a wild tea plant in the Yunnan Province of China and was bought directly from a farmer. She calls it ‘No Name’ tea because this is tea the family drinks and has no name.  Very special tea, sweet and delicious.  And Kim wore a traditional Chinese special occasion dress of silk, but back to the Gongfu Cha.


No Name Tea

The tea is poured in a continual motion over each cup so all are filled together and taste the same.  There are 2 cups with the larger is called the “snifter”. This was tipped upside down releasing tea into the small drinking cups, about 2 sips worth.  Then the snifter is smelled to appreciate the aroma. Kim moved everything using bamboo chopsticks.  Typically up to five infusions are made from the same leaves, adding 10 seconds of steep each time.

Next up, the Japanese Tea Ceremony,

The Tea Lady