The Green Teaist Newsletter    

                                                                                                       June 2011

     Volume 2, Issue 12   



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Welcome to this issue of our newsletter.


The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, amply lives up to its self-proclaimed description as "the world's greatest museum of art and design."   It was founded in 1852, named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and covers 12.5 acres and 145 galleries. TGT was privileged to visit V&A earlier this month.


One of the galleries is devoted to the art and design of Japan and features ceramics, scrolls, sculptures and textiles. Of particular interest to The Green Teaist is its comprehensive collection of ceramics and accessories used in the Chado ("The Way of Tea") or the tea ceremony. The  arrangement and descriptions of the items are both coherent and accurate.  Its collection of items relating to the tea culture of Japan date back to the late nineteenth century when Europe became enthralled with all manner of Japanese art and design, beginning with the Parisian Exposition of 1889 at which were exhibited, for the very first time, the highest examples of Japanese art and handicraft.  In Chicago, at the Weston Gallery of the Art Institute, there is a more condensed display of similar ceramics.


Not to be outdone by the French and as a matter of national pride, Washington funded the Chicago Exposition of 1893 at which, for the first time, the best quality green teas of Kyoto, Japan, were served at the Japanese Pavilion behind the current Museum of Science and Industry. The Chicago politics of who would manage the federal grant almost caused the Exposition to be cancelled by Washington, D.C., although that is another  story and appropriately reflected by the French proverb "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."


The same company, Maikonocha, from which TGT imports most of its fine green teas from Kyoto, provided  the green teas for the Exposition.  Following a 118 years hiatus, TGT has brought back to the United States the very same highest quality of the green teas which were originally served in Chicago in 1893.   


When you next visit the TGT Salon in Lake Forest, please note, in the L'Atelier, the authentic map of the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and the description of the Japanese Pavilion in the lagoon at Jackson Park, just west of the current University of Chicago which had not yet been completed.



Northern Trust Bank Event



On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, The Green Teaist was pleased to participate in a special event hosted by the Northern Trust Bank, at its West Branch in Lake Forest, Illinois. The Women's Afternoon Tea on Estate Planning featured speaker Mary Ann Sisco, Senior Vice President, Director of Personal Financial Services Client Solutions. TGT provided a tasting of two of our fine green teas from Japan, Sencha and Hojicha, paired with tea sandwiches and a delicious selection of pasties from Gerhard's Elegant European Desserts. The event was well-received and truly enjoyed by all who were able to attend.






 The Peninsula Chicago Event



On Sunday, June 26, 2011, The Peninsula Chicago and The Green Teaist  co-sponsored an "Afternoon Green Tea,"   in the Peninsula's  Avenues restaurant, to support the Japanese Red Cross Society which is providing assistance to those whose lives were devastated on March 11, 2011, in the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in Sendai, followed by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Perhaps, the greatest single tragedy caused by natural forces in the long history of Japan, it appears that Japan is gradually recovering from this unprecedented shock, but still needs as much support as possible. Through the kind participation and generosity of the guests who attended this event, we were able to provide a substantial gift to the Red Cross to further its efforts. We wish to thank all of those who attended and those who could not, but contributed by making a gift.   


The afternoon began with a demonstration of the tea ceremony of Japan conducted by the famous Tea Master, Joyce Kubose, and 12 instructors and members of the Urasenke School of the Tea Ceremony, the oldest and most famous of the tea schools with a history spanning over half a millennium. Everyone agreed that the demonstration was a wonderful experience and provided a better understanding of the nuances of the tea ceremony and its philosophical basis.  Each of the guests was served Wagashi (the traditional Japanese confection created for the tea ceremony).  The Toraya Confectionery Company of Japan generously furnished, for this occasion and reflecting the season, (Ajisai, a tri-colored confection commemorating the subtle colors of the hydrangea).  Following the confection, the finest Matcha (the frothed powdered green tea) was prepared by the members of the Urasenke group and presented to each of the guests.  In this case, the TGT Matcha which was served was the finest available, Fugen no Mukashi (the tea of universal wisdom).


Introductions and brief remarks were made by Mr. Tatsuhiro Shindo, Chief Executive Director of JETRO; Mr. Daisuke Kojo, Ministry of Agriculture; Mr. Masaaki Seki, Senior Managing Director of Toraya Confectionery; and Mr. Jisoo Chon, Director, Food & Beverage, The Peninsula Chicago. The second half of the Afternoon Green Tea consisted of tastings of three different green teas from TGT: Shincha 2011 (this year's first flush of green tea) from Kyoto; Yamecha from Fukuoka; and Kukicha from Kyoto. Samuel Ritchey, Tea Sommelier and consultant to The Green Teaist, provided an interesting and philosophical exposition of the history of teas and the differences between the green teas of Japan and the teas of other countries, including China and India.


Each of the teas served was briefly explained by Joseph Stellner of TGT Lake Forest and Anna Diaz of TGT Beverly Hills. In addition to the sampling of the three green teas, through the generous efforts of Executive Chef Kai Lermen of The Peninsula Chicago, the guests were feted to some of the finest and most delicious afternoon tea sandwiches, canapés and desserts, including memorable scones, all of which were paired deftly to enhance the different green teas. The Chef oversees all of the famous restaurants of The Peninsula Chicago, rated the No. 1 hotel in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine, and a twin-starred Michelin restaurant, the Avenues where the event was held.  Chef Lermen has also spent time in Osaka, Japan and the accompaniments he prepared reflected the Japanese culinary sensibilities with which he is eminently familiar.   


All of the guests received a special gift to remember the occasion, including unique tokens of appreciation from Toraya, The Peninsula Chicago and The Green Teaist.


We take this opportunity to thank once more the wonderful support and cooperation of The Peninsula Chicago and, in particular, Jisoo Chon and Jennifer Clarke, Director, Catering; Joyce Kubose and the Urasenke  group; Mr. Masaaki Seki who kindly hand-carried from Tokyo all of the Wagashi; Mr. Tatsuhiro Shindo who marshalled the prestige and influence of the JETRO organization to support this event; Ms. Erika Kono, Executive Secretary of the Japan America Society of Chicago for coordinating  the collection of the funds to be contributed to the Japanese Red Cross Society;  and, last but not least, Ms. Shirlee Englese, Administrative Services of The Green Teaist, for her tireless and fine assistance in making certain that all aspects of the event were completed seamlessly and professionally.







Japanese Red CrossJapan and America are more than trading partners. The tea community is very close as evidenced by the many ways the industry has rallied to provide support in this crisis. The links below describe several ongoing programs. Tea Community Japan Relief Efforts List 



Quake Crisis Response Links  | Japan-America Society Relief Efforts

International Medical Corps| Unicef| The American Red Cross



Kyoto Silk Card Case  




The Green Teaist is introducing a new product, the Kyoto Silk Card Case which was especially commissioned, hand sewn and embroidered with the TGT logo by the famed Tatsumura Silk Company of Kyoto, Japan. The case is divided into two compartments, to keep business cards organized. Tatsumura, founded in the 8th century, is the oldest and most famous silk company in Japan.                                          



All items are boxed and gift wrapped without additional charge. Price includes standard shipping within the continental United States. 


Orders may be placed by calling (847) 735-0400, faxing 847-735-0440 or by email,



The Green Teaist Book Store 

Book Review 





(The Green Teaist offers the most extensive collection of books on teas around the world, their history, provenance, practices and customs, with emphasis on the green teas of Japan. You may wish to browsethe more than 30 titles at TGT Lake Forest and a more limited collection at TGT Beverly Hills. We review each book in our expanding collection and, perhaps, interest you in increasing your understanding of teas.)


Tea of the Sages: The Art of Sencha, Patricia J. Graham, 259 pp, University of Hawai'i Press: 1998, $28.00


This scholarly work is a definitive explanation of how the tea culture of China, over a period of a thousand years, was transmitted to Japan and then modified by Japan to what it is today, including the tea ceremony and the subsequent secularization of tea, "the art of sencha."  The author, Patricia J Graham is assistant to the director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas and an expert on Asian art.  Her recently published book is a tour de force in which she explains how the green tea culture of Japan, once confined only to Buddhist priests and nobility, through Chanoyu or Chado (the way of tea or the tea ceremony), devolved into a more relaxed form of enjoying green tea, by utilizing sencha (the leaf tea) and not the Matcha (the powdered green tea used in the tea ceremony).  However, those who practice "the art of sencha" have their formalism as well because it is comparable to "high tea" in the English tradition, with its rituals, Wedgewood and sterling tea accessories.   


The V&A gallery in London on the tea culture of Japan has a wonderful display of the unique ceramics and utensils used in "the art of sencha" which is somewhat less subdued than those use in the Chanoyu.  This reflects the gradual secularization of green teas and the manner in which it might be consumed.  "The art of sencha" remains a highly esoteric way of enjoying the finest leaf teas or sencha.  However, for the greater population of Japan today, green tea is consumed in a much more informal manner, including going so far as vending machines dispensing canned green teas or served in paper cups. Most likely, the original practitioners of "the art of sencha" would express their displeasure with the lack of respect for the ideals of the tea tradition as handed down from China to Japan over so many centuries.


At The Green Teaist in Lake Forest and Beverly Hills, we have tried to combine the best of these worlds to include as precise a preparation of the teas by proper steeping, temperature of water, quantity of tea leaves and fine china and serviceware. In other words, we believe in the respect which these fine green teas deserve, and at the same time, wish to make it accessible for all to enjoy without learning any particular rules which must be followed by our guests, as would be the case in "the art of sencha."




   Hoken S. Seki