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Yolene Dabreteau

Freelance Photographer

289

1

The Japan Memory of an Afternoon Tea

A recent trip to Japan inspired me for this delicious afternoon tea. On a very rainy afternoon in Kyoto, my husband and I were led through the Gion district by a lovely local guide. After seeing multiple temples and shrines (Kyoto is quite the city for it!), we started making stops in beautiful little sweet shops specialising in matcha tea confections before heading to something I had been eagerly waiting for: a tea ceremony with a tea master. We ran towards the building where this was taking place as the rain was getting heavier. Walking in, we left our shoes at the door and entered the most peaceful little room. It was cosy, calm, the light was soft and lightly dark. We sat on the tatami floor and listened to the amazing story of how a good cup of matcha tea is made. The process, if followed to the letter, can be very long as it requires many gestures.

We eventually were given a small bowl (which should be positioned a certain way, then turned in your hands another way, etc.), a lady in a beautiful kimono deposited the matcha tea powder delicately in our bowls. We were given a delicious sweet each as matcha tea is not sweetened. The candy you eat beforehand will sweeten your mouth to balance with the bitterness of the matcha tea. We whisked our teas and sipped following the tradition (your last sip should be a loud slurp as a mark or respect to the tea master).

The whole experience was truly enjoyable and relaxing. I used this moment in Kyoto for my little afternoon tea time photo project. My words were: serenity, elegance, ritual and daydreaming (because when I sit down for tea time, I like to dream about past and future travels). I used all props brought back from my trip, including a most elegant black bowl I found in a gorgeous ceramics designer shop in Tokyo. I added a touch of my Frenchness by having a little almond financier as my 'sweet'. Arigato!

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