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The Ritual of Tea Class

By Marjorie Yap

Ever since I began to study tea regularly, I have had to travel across town to class once a week. My tea ceremony class was held on Thursday nights and it was 45 minutes to an hour in rush hour traffic to get to my sensei’s house. When I moved to Seattle it sometimes took two hours to get to class.

Because it was so difficult for me to get to class, I often asked myself why do I continue to do it? The answer quite simply is that I felt so much better after class. I remember driving home many times saying to myself, “Oh I didn’t want to go to class tonight, but I am so glad that I did.”

The more complicated answer is that tea class is a place where I can take a breath in my life. Our lives have become so complicated with time being the commodity in shortest supply. Everything takes longer than I anticipate and I am usually behind as I cram more and more into my already overloaded schedule. By contrast, in the tea room, there are no clocks. Each procedure is just as long as it takes. Multi-tasking is not a virtue in tea.

Tea class has become an experience rather than an activity for me. Each part of the experience has also become a ritual. The driving in traffic, putting on kimono, preparing the utensils, making tea, and cleaning up, puts my world in order again. By the next week when it is time for class, I need to put the world in order again.

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