London Tea Friends x Summer Tea Fest 2023 was absolutely wonderful this year. We had a mild day and green grass for a start (last year was in the middle of a heatwave)! I was set up in almost the exact same spot as last year, in the corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields that they occupy for the day of the festival. Once again it was a wonderful day of serving matcha to guests. The relaxed and open, tea sharing atmosphere London Tea Friends have created with this event is really special. Everyone is there to enjoy tea and meet like minded tea people.
For this year I adapted a standard Ueda Sōko Chabako temae to suit doing repeat temae all day. I also made a couple of pieces specially for the occasion. Instead of the usual natsume, I made this tartan shifuku for an English ceramic that I’ve converted into a chaire by having a lid made. The tartan really suits an outdoor setting, the soft blue and purple tones were chosen for my overall toriawase to give a cooling, outdoor vibe. It worked beautifully with my glass chawan from Aomori prefecture. I love seeing the green of the matcha through the blue glass.
Instead of the usual poem or painting for displaying on the inside of the chabako lid, I made an embroidered piece in my “Cloud-Gire” pattern in purple and blue tones with gold on a linen ground. Softly suggesting the rain which we fortunately avoided on the day and the clouds which were so needed last year.
This year we had to heat our own water, which when you’re traveling with kit can be tricky to assemble a heating system that is elegant but lightweight. Obviously brining my binkake (small ceramic brasier) was out of the question! My vintage 1920’s silver spirit kettle was perfect though, the looping handle kinda reminds me of the cloud over Mt Fuji (perfect cloud connection there). For heating I used Ethanol gel fuel – they’re safe even if a bit slow. However, the tins it comes in are ugly so I made a collar from tinfoil which I added gold leaf to and sat it on a terracotta floor tile we dug up in the garden to protect the roll up tatami mat I take for outdoor events.
Article and photos by our Tea Fellow and chanoyu practitioner Kyle Whittington. Find out more about Kyle and his tea activities here.