Ancient Japanese Tradition Continues in Windsor Village

| April 11, 2012 | 0 Comments
Lauren Deutsch

TEAMEISTER Lauren Deutsch has created a Japanese tea room after centuries-old traditions in her condo

How did a Jewish girl from New York end up steeped in the centuries-old tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony?

A trip to Japan in the 1980s with the Sierra Club did not take her into many tea rooms, as her hiking boots were not conducive to the experience, explains Lauren Deutsch, Lucerne Blvd. Struck by the beauty of the country, she wanted to go back immediately upon her return. She found solace at UCLA Extension courses and eventually learned of chado – the way of tea.

Not speaking the language – lessons were in Japanese – and as a left-hander in a right-handed based tradition, learning the art of making tea was a challenge. But the peace and poetry it offered was worth it – It’s a meditative experience to put it mildly. But it is not meditation.

Tea Ceremony

GREEN TEA in powdered form contains potent antioxidants, much more than when steeped, says Deutsch.


She credits her L.A.-based teacher Sosie Matsumoto with fueling her passion for all things tea. A Hawaiian native, the diminutive Matsumoto, 92, is a heavyweight in the world of tea. A National Heritage Fellow for the National Endowment of the Arts, she has been awarded by the Emperor of Japan and poured tea for members of the U.S. Congress.

This month marks the 60th anniversary of the Japanese tea ceremony by Matsumoto on the U.S. mainland. Programs are offered at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino and at the Japanese Pavilion at the L.A. County Museum of Art.

Since Deutsch received her teacher’s license from the historic Urasenke schoo – it dates back 16 generations in Kyoto – she has demonstrated at UCLA, USC and for the Japanese Ambassador in Wash., D.C., among others.

Working in the non-profit sector, she is also a free lance journalist and writes of the merits of tea and the ceremony for various publications.

“I’m not doing something mysterious, there’s no magic,” Deutsch says in a Japanese tea room she re-created in a bedroom in her condo. Tatami mats line the floor and an alcove contains a scroll painted with calligraphy characters for harmony, purity, respect and tranquility, the four attributes of tea.
In another corner she assembles ceramic pots carefully chosen for their shared aesthetics. She pours the green-powdered matcha into a hand-size bowl, adding hot water with a wooden ladle from an iron kettle.

The prized shade-grown leaves are from old root stock; they are at their most potent with antioxidants in powdered form.

She offers jellied red bean or dates to clean the palate, kneeling with her kimono tucked beneath her.
With one palm holding the base, she turns the bowl two times, bows, then raises it slightly offering it to her guest.

Zen Buddhist monks discovered tea’s ability to provide clarity, says Deutsch, who has returned to Japan several times, as well as taken a dozen trips to South Korea. While the art of tea stems from China, the Revolution there moved its ancient traditions to its Korean neighbor to the east.

Deutsch takes the informal ceremony – contrasted to the four-hour version – on the road. It’s a calming retreat, forcing you to pay attention, she says.

At schools she tells students stories of 16th-century shoguns leaving their swords outside tea houses to serve their enemy.

“Tea takes the war out of people. It’s a neutralizer.”

You can reach her at

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