I recently had the chance to interview tea master Sen So'Oku, who Rona Tison ("The Matriarch of ITO EN") dubbed a tea "rock star." Fun! Here's an excerpt (where WTN = me):
WTN: Have the reasons for studying tea changed?
Sen: Several generations ago, people learned the way of tea to learn etiquette and how to behave, but today people are interested in learning in order to acquire knowledge about tea and art, in order to enjoy.
WTN: Is there a renaissance of tea culture in Japan?
Sen: There is a lot of interest in tea. Magazines for young people that have nothing to do with traditional art and tea are doing stories about tea ceremonies. You could call it trendy or a mini-boom, but there are many people in creative businesses, like art directors, art curators or artists, who want to get involved in tea.
WTN: Is chanoyu more expressive than it was?
Sen: There was a time when the tea ceremony was very rigid and people’s impression of it was very formal, so young people especially didn’t like it and stayed away from it. That attitude is changing. Now, you can be creative with tea. In order to make a new style or be expressive, you have to have the basic form. I think there will be two directions of tea in the future. One direction is, you keep and protect the tradition of tea. The other is to enjoy the tea in a contemporary setting, to make a special moment in ordinary life.
You can read the full article on World Tea News. He'll be presenting at the World Tea Expo. I saw his lecture and demo at The Japan Center in NYC and I highly recommend you check him out in Vegas!
PS -- It looks like I am a finalist for Top Tea Cocktail, though the final results will be announced next week. Thanks to all of you who voted and passed on the link!!!