A Japanese Tea
Japanese Tea 1.
In Japan the hostess serves the tea from the table. There is a charcoal burner over which the water is kept lukewarm, not hot. The tea is powdered very fine. It is in the teapot or cups as the hostess chooses. The water is poured over it and off quickly for the tea in the cup is very weak and only straw-colored, not dark as we make it. It is drunk without cream or sugar. With it are served tiny wafer-like sweet cakes and dishes of bonbons are on the table, no nuts, just bonbons. Nothing is on the table save the tea equipment, tiny cups and saucers and dishes of sweets. As the water is only lukewarm one can easily have the five o'clock teakettle on the table (though that is not Japanese). As fast as the water boils pour into a pitcher and keep the kettle replenished, pouring into the cups from the pitcher. Or have the maids bring the water from the kitchen. In Japan the geisha girls are employed in the public teahouses to entertain men visitors so "maids" will be a better term by which to call the young girls who help you. If one wishes to make their room Japanese, fill the vases with imitation peach or cherry blossoms, hang Japanese lanterns in doorways and Japanese banners, which can be made from paper napkins and bright red paper for a background. The incense sticks are very inexpensive and any large department store which deals in Japanese goods including the five and ten cent stores, keep them.
Serve date sandwiches cut in shape of dominoes and dotted with currants, or nut or any sandwiches desired cut in this shape and so decorated, chocolate with whipped cream, strawberries arranged around a mound of powdered sugar, a spray of strawberry leaves and blossoms laid on the plate, or any fresh berries. Serve small cakes domino shape covered with white icing, dotted with tiny chocolate candies representing the domino spots. Or if one wishes to serve ice cream with the berries have it moulded in a two quart can, then turned out on a round platter, making a column of ice cream. Surround with fresh berries at the base with a few large perfect berries on top.
Japanese Tea 2.
Instead of using the orthodox square at home cards, write the invitations on long, thin, narrow slips of paper, the lettering running from the bottom to the top and from right to left; a few queer birds, the suggestion of a lantern and a falling chrysanthemum splashed in carelessly in sepia, are very effective touches. The cherry-blossoms are used in decorating, which are simply little, round, white paper petals with the edges dipped in red dye, fastened to boughs and put up everywhere, as are also the fluffy chrysanthemums, dainty butterflies, and a profusion of cheap little fans.
A huge Japanese umbrella hangs over the tea-table, at which four girls dressed in kimonas preside, while two others are in the drawing room.
The kimonas, which are very easily made, are all different in color, although a two-color scheme would, perhaps, be prettier - say white and yellow, or white and mauve, with chrysanthemums to correspond.
The refreshments are, perhaps, the most novel part of the whole idea. Instead of the conventional salads, ices, cakes, etc., the guests are served with delicious tea, in the daintiest of Japanese cups, and hot buttered baps. During the afternoon have selections from "The Geisha," "The Mandarin," "The Little Tycoon," and "The Mikado."
Japanese Tea 3.
At a Japanese Tea, several small tables are used, set at intervals in the room; these are generally presided over by the hostess and the ladies who receive with her, each being furnished with a tea service. They are laid in white damask or linen embroidered in a Japanese design, the center is occupied by a circular mound of red blossoms which symbolize the emblem of the Flowery Kingdom's flag, combining the national colors also red and white.
In the middle of the mound, slightly elevated, there is placed a "Jinriki-sha," which is the riding vehicle of Japan, a two-wheeled affair resembling our modern dog-cart; it is drawn by a man in costume and seated in it is a woman, also in costume, holding above her and large enough to extend over the table, one of those grotesque paper umbrellas, which are as much a part of that country as its rice and tea. The edges of these are festooned with red and white flowers and hung with the smaller sized, globe shaped lanterns that are used profusely about the room also, for decorating and lights.
Candelabra likewise is used, and it should be of that quaint looking black material that is decidedly Oriental in appearance and is the latest thing in such bric-a-brac. White tapers with red shades show off to advantage above this dark fancifully wrought metal, shedding a softly subdued radiance, at once pretty and restful to the eye.
The chrysanthemum, while not the national flower, is the imperial favorite and best beloved bloom of the people, therefore it is the proper one for decoration, united with potted plants, palms, vines, etc. All hues and kinds may be combined in the general adornment of room or rooms (the red and white being confined to the tables alone), for twining, banking or bouquets, just as fancy dictates, and the furnishings admit. The chrysanthemum, gorgeous in itself and lavishly employed, makes a superb decoration, and if, for a background, the walls, doors, windows, etc., are draped in Japanese tapestry goods, with friezes of the flowers, the result will prove singularly striking and beautiful.
Of course, Japanese china is used, and as to the things to eat there can be offered thin sardine sandwiches, delicate wafers, fruits, confections. This is merely a suggestion; individuals use their own ideas, and at different places customs change. Ices served should be in oblong squares with round red centers to represent the flag of Japan. Souvenirs for guests, if any are given, ought to be small cups and saucers of the genuine ware or facsimile in candy, tied with red and white ribbons.
Breakfasts and Teas; Novel Suggestions for Social Occasions. Compiled by Paul Pierce