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Bridget in Bahrain.

There are few things better than a good cup of tea. My preference is for a strong brew of English or Irish Breakfast Blend any time of the day but there's room for all sorts of tea in this world, just not necessarily in my cup. Perfume is wonderful but I don't want to drink it, and -- trust me on this one -- strawberries, oranges and tea-leaves grow on different plants; you can only make tea from one of them. I'm sorry to say that I resort to a teabag in a mug far more often than I should, though I do draw the line at an under-sized and under-flavoured bag dangling from a piece of string. The Japanese tea ceremony is a world away from a teabag in a mug. It is high art, a unique cultural experience. Recently I was lucky enough to witness a tea ceremony at the Japanese Ambassador's home, presided over by Makiko Sen, a direct descendant of the 16th Century founding father of the most famous tea tradition in the country. We were in the presence of tea ceremony royalty. The ceremony is a perfectly choreographed ritual about so much more than making tea. It is both simple and complex, about harmony and respect. It's an opportunity to escape from the pressures of daily life and enjoy a period of tranquillity. It's a window to a fascinating and ancient culture from which we can all learn.In the age of instant gratification, we sometimes forget how much more enjoyable some things are if we devote a little more time and thought to them. Few people can perform the tea ceremony but respecting our own traditions, even if they are as simple as making a pot of tea the old-fashioned way, is good for the soul.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Nov 27, 2013
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