What is a tea ceremony?
Tea ceremony — called “chanoyu” or “chado” in Japanese — is at once an art form, a spiritual discipline, a way to socialize, and a window into Japanese culture. Practiced for more than 450 years, this unique way of sharing tea has spread around the world.
There are many styles of tea ceremony, but they typically include a ceremonial cleansing of the utensils, the serving of sweets, preparing and serving bowls of tea, and the appreciation of the artistry of the tools used in the performance.
Tea ceremonies at Shofuso are led by members from the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Philadelphia Association, headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. Public demonstrations are narrated to provide context to guests.
Tea Ceremony Demonstrations at Shofuso
Hosts wear traditional kimono, and will serve one or two guests of honor as part of the demonstration. Attendees will get an up-close view of the ceremony, and will receive a traditional seasonal sweet and a bowl of matcha (powdered green tea).
Attendance is limited, typically only 25 people or less can be accommodated at a sitting. Advance reservations are required.
Attire is casual, though some guests have dressed more formally for the occasion. Keep in mind that shoes will be removed, and that most sitting is on the floor, so dress accordingly.
Taeko Shervin has been practicing chado for more than thirty years. She began sharing her passion for tea in the form of demonstrations at venues ranging from cultural fairs to department stores. In 1986, she started teaching at La Salle University, where she gave lessons to students and the public alike. She continued her own studies, however, and in 2010 she attained the rank of kyoju, an honor that has been granted to few teachers in the United States. Today, she continues to teach private students, and regularly demonstrates tea ceremony to the public.
Morgan Beard has been studying chado since 1994. Her introduction to tea was an undergraduate course with Brother Keenan at La Salle University. She enjoyed tea ceremony so much that she continued to study under teachers Mariko La Fleur and Taeko Shervin, expanding her knowledge of tea and eventually becoming a licensed teacher. She teaches weekly lessons at Shofuso along with Drew Hanson, and also provides demonstrations and other events throughout the Delaware Valley.
Drew Hanson has been studying chado since 1995 when he began practice with Brother Joseph Keenan at La Salle University’s teahouse. Subsequently, he trained under teachers Mariko La Fleur and Taeko Shervin and is a licensed teacher. Now retired, Drew continues to study, teach, and demonstrate chado. He’s an avid gardener and ceramist and operates Boukakuan, Japanese Tea House and Garden, at his home in New Jersey. Drew holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the Pennsylvania State University.
Kiyoko Shiga Heineken, a certified Omotesenke-style instructor since 2007, organizes and performs regular tea demonstrations in the Omotesenke style at Shofuso and in the region. Princeton Chanoyu, a part of the Eastern Region Omotesenke Domonkai, visits twice a year to provide public demonstrations for the Philadelphia region.