June 11, 2015
Ippodo Matcha Nodate
Last Wednesday's breakfast was very special. I participated in a Nodate, an outdoor Japanese tea ceremony, hosted by Ippodo Tea at the Gramercy Park Hotel Terrace. The guest of honor was Mrs. Miyako Watanabe. Preceding the Nodate was a generous breakfast of yogurt cups, fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and milks, and a bagel bar with salmon, cream cheese, and jams. We refreshed our palettes with Shincha served in whiskey glasses and lemon jellies.
After breakfast we adjourned to a section of the terrace that had been laid with a rug.
Through an interpreter, Michael McAteer, Mrs. Watanabe described the steps of the tea ceremony. (Mr. McAteer was born in Kyoto but lives in NY and hosts a popular show recorded in Japanese. Mrs. Watanabe is a fan of his show and sought him as an interpreter.) The bowl of thin matcha Mrs. Watanabe prepared as part of the ceremony was served to one of the guests. The remaining guests were served matcha prepared by Ippodo staff from the Manhattan store. Mrs. Watanabe also took questions and she was just as graceful in her answers as she was when performing the Nodate.
Mrs. Watanabe has been studying the way of the tea ceremony for 15 years. She is a teacher of the ceremony but also has her own teacher! She is also skilled in the art of flower arrangement or kado. If you follow the Ippodo Tea Instagram feed, you may have noticed her arrangements. Like flower arrangements, the objects used in the tea ceremony reflect the season.
The chabako or tea box she brought with her is very beautiful. However, she encouraged us to not to worry about the container in which we carry our matcha tools. The more important aspect of the Nodate is being outdoors. One of her stories was of her mountain hikes; she takes along a thermos of hot water, a whisk, a bowl, and matcha. At the top of the mountain, she prepares a bowl of matcha. Someone asked about the best implement for whisking the matcha. She told us that sieving the matcha is essential in preparing good matcha! I don't have a matcha furui but I think my tea strainer will work well.
Have you ever been part of a Nodate? And what's in your matcha toolkit?
P.S. We were served cold Iribancha after the matcha. It was very good, too.