The Philly Tea Club (and guests!) assembled in the back yard for an introduction to Chanoyu.

Being far from a proper tea room, Pamela L - a third year student of the Urasenke school - performed one of the more casual forms, o-bon temae.

This ceremony is performed with the utensils arranged on a round tray, and draws hot water from a tetsubin rather than ladled from the kama.

She selected a fantastic sweet to pair with the tea - candied Yuzu, a slightly sour citrus fruit. This was much more to my liking than many other Chanoyu treats I have tasted.

The tea used was quite delicious, being a fine Koicha grade. It is prepared here Usucha (thin) style, for which it is certainly suited. Lower grades of matcha are sometimes not smooth and mellow enough for some drinkers to enjoy when prepared in the thick style, but the refined and mellow taste of Koicha grade tea can be equally enjoyed as thin tea.

More on Usucha and Koicha at Wikipedia.

A bowl of tea was served to each guest in turn, and they learned both to thank the host for the tea, and to excuse themselves to the next guest for drinking before them.

After all the guests were served, the hostess served herself a bowl.

All that was left was for the equipment to be cleaned again, and carried out of the tea space in sequence.

Being a tea gathering in my home, it was quite impossible to resist preparing a few pots of aged puerh. This favorite - 1985 8582 - was the perfect introduction to our guests, drinking well aged puerh for the first time.

The menu - also including Golden Buddha, a new cultivar rock tea, and 2008 1000 year tree puerh - ended with the last of my Shincha for the year. We are both sad to see it go, and very excited to move on to the variety of sencha selected this year by the ladies of The Tea Gallery.

Photos by Brandon and Pamela D - More in my Flickr set.