Japanese tea means more than green tea, but authentic learning about this specific topic is hard to get outside Japan. Therefore, I was more than happy to discover that the relatively recently open store Chaya - Cha - tea, ya - store - at Bikini Berlin offers a special Tea seminar - Teeseminar - explaining the basics of the brewed drinks. I booked immediately an available spot - the number of participants is limited and you might wait more than one month until you can find a free place, therefore, the sooner the better. The price is 10 EUR. for more than one hour and it includes tea testing, plus some specific Japanese cakes matching the various tastes. Definitely worth it!
Before the seminar started I had a look again around the store, which offers authentic Japanese products - tea, snacks, but more importantly utensils used in the everyday life, such as rice and sake bowls.
The ceramic, for instance, are authentic and share the trademark of various artists and styles that I also encountered while attending various specific workshops in various parts of Japan during my full year spent in the country.
Kimonos and yukatas are also waiting to be admired and bought by anyone interested to start or develop its collection of precious Japanese traditional items.
Or small gadgets to adorn your cell phone...All you need to create a veritable Japanese lifestyle in your Berlin home. The prices are for all kind of budgets, with the ceramics rightly priced for their value and authenticity.
As for the tea seminar, I didn't know what to expect, but it was very intensive, both in taste and information, and very generous with the tasting of excellent teas. As I am not necessarily a tea person myself, I appreciated the very clearn information about the tastes and preparation techniques, as well as the fine selection of teas.
For instance, I've learned that there are some teas which do have natural sweetness - like Gentle Treat - or Kukihouji, my favorite -and Sunday Morning - or I discovered some interesting new tastes like Best Friend or My Bancha. Most of them are originary from Shizuoka, the center of the Japanese tea production, near the Fuji mountain.
I also loved that I was able to learn not only about the teas themselves, but also about the utensils to be used for preparing and serving them, which are important as they keep maintaining the required temperature. For the brewing of each tea, special water temperature was indicated. After a short demonstration, we were back to our reserved seats for practicing the lessons learned, which was another great tea experience.
You learn to taste, feel and smell every single tea sampled and it can be a great start of a relationship not only with a product, but with a thousand-year tradition and lifestyle.
I would definitely love to repeat this experience, but would equally love to offer such a Teeseminar as a present to one of my tea-lover friends. As for the store, would always be happy to pay a visit in a place which reminds me so much of the beautiful Japan.