Elizabeth Knight - Tea with Friends - Afternoon Tea New York, High Tea, Tea Tours in New York


Lobby of Tokyo’s Villa Fontaine Hotel seen from the 5th floor. The escalator connects to the subways on the lower level. http.www.villa-fontaine.co.jp

Sencha brewing essentials are provided in most hotel rooms.

Croesus Bouquet de L’Arthe art tea. The main attraction at the afternoon tea seminars held in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and Yokohama. http//:www.mercure.jp

A traditonal tea table set with antique English lace and Spode bone china.

Each of the four hotels hosting the afternoon tea seminars prepared a custom tea menu. The Australian chef at Kyoto’s Hyatt Regency developed green tea sable cookies, a modern twist on the classic  French version of shortbread.

One of these tea samples was scented with cherry blossoms. Heavenly!

Just in case there wasn’t enough tea at the festival, it’s sold at vending machines on the street and at bus and subway stops.

The flowers on the obi silk sash must be compatible with the kimono’s cherry blossoms.

Lue-San prepares for the incense ceremony by laying a sliver of incense (more expensive than gold) on a mica chip nestled in ashes warmed with a charcoal nugget. She then cups the holder to inhale the incense before passing it along to her guests.

The tea master, who is also an antiques dealer, prepares the tea in a bowl that is hundreds of years old. Thank goodness  I wasn’t told until after I’d sipped and returned the cup. Note the cut-glass bowl with green leaf. They are meant to suggest water and a cool leafy glade on a sultry summer day.

Traditional shrine surrounded by contemporary high-rise office buildings.


Relaxing at Café LeGrand Tea & Cake after shopping on the Ginza, Tokyo’s Fifth Ave.


Cha Ginza Tea Master preparing a pot of sencha. The pink sweets on the little plates in the foreground are made with bean paste and scored to resemble sushi.


“Wonderful encounters with tea” at the Fukujuen CHA Research Center where we learned about various types of green tea, their production processes and how to prepare and enjoy sencha and matcha. http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/en/theme/activities/


A monk sips morning tea, it's quiet, the chrysanthemum's flowering.

Ms. Yuka Goda, President and CEO of Croesus Bouquet de L’Arthe, a business which imports elaborate art tea from China, hired me to participate in afternoon tea seminars she hosted in July at the top hotels in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and Yokohama which serve her teas.   

Japan produces only green teas – Bancha (Genmaicha, Hojicha and Yanagi) Gyokuro, Kukicha, Matcha, and Sencha are traditionally drunk without milk, sugar or lemon. Matcha is best served with sweets. Sencha is the everyday day tea enjoyed on its own or with a meal. When infused with cold rather than hot water, Gyokuro and Sencha make refreshing summer drinks. 

The Japanese are mad for English-style afternoon tea, however. The pleasant ritual is both foreign and familiar. The seminars consisted of a 45-minute talk from a Japanese etiquette expert re the history of afternoon tea and its etiquette. I spoke about the history of tea in NYC, after all we drank it before the British, and showed a power point with photos of the variety of ways to experience tea in the city. Then the china reps (Spode, Ginori and Augarten) talked about the history of the company, how the china is made, etc.

Here are some photos from that fabulous trip.

A  5:00 AM glimpse from my hotel room window of the bullet train zipping along at 164 MPH. No, I couldn’t hear a thing when I was in bed.

Tea has been described as the West’s most congenial debt to the East. Sharing the  spotlight with a lovely young woman in her silk kimono.

This china pattern is called yukata in tribute to the summer cotton robes which are less formal than silk kimonos.  Traditionally, yukata are blue and white. Contemporary ikebana floral arrangement.
I attended the Ozone Summer Tea Festival, at Shinjuku Park Tower, featuring 8 floors of tea vendors, craftspeople and a traditional tea house. I couldn’t resist picking up a package of green tea incense. http://www.ozone.co.jp/event_seminar/event/detail/339.html


Ever wonder how they grind tea leaves to make matcha?


Beautifully wrapped gift boxes filled with tea are sold in the food halls of every department store. The cheapest package is $42; the most expensive, $157.50 for 3 tins.


Robing for the events at the Okitsu-An guest house for foreign VIP’s in Kyoto. It is named after the Cherry tree Ou and the Citrus tree Kitsu both of which are famous symbolic trees located within the Imperial Palace Courtyard. The house has 2 tea rooms, 1 incense ceremony room, 1 dining room complete with English style furnishings for your comfort, 1 Japanese cooking fireplace room, and a vast 1600m sq² garden. http://www.okitsukyoto.com/english/history/index.html


Not quite as lovely as our hostess.


The first course of a seven course kaiseki meal traditionally served at court and later associated with the tea ceremony.


Café LeGrand Tea & Cake in the Gina.


Café LeGrand’s caramel tea latte with wheat scones.


Interior of Ippo-Do Tea the shop has supplied tea to the Imperial Household Agency since 1846. I bought hojicha, a lightly roasted blend of bancha and sencha.


Wa-gashi is the general name for Japanese sweets made with beans, sugar, rice or wheat flour, sweet potatoes and chestnuts. They are eaten before drinking a cup of matcha during the tea ceremony and I took a class to learn how to form them. I have hundreds more photos, but this is a sweet shot to end my album.






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