Voices from the Walla Walla Valley: Akira Takemoto

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Akira Takemoto

Akira Takemoto, 62, once counted waves off the Southern California coast to find the perfect swell for his surfboard. Now, he looks for different waves: not the aquamarine of the ocean but the frothy green swirls of tea in his tea bowl.

Takemoto has practiced the Yabunouchi style of tea ceremony since 1976, when he lived in Japan for four years to study Japanese language and Buddhism.

Tea ceremony revolves around the preparation, serving and drinking of matcha green tea, a fine powder made from stone-ground green tea leaves. Hot water is added to the powdered tea and vigorously whisked.

The bamboo whisk is carefully removed from the bowl so as not to disturb the thin layer of bubbles that veils the dark, bitter tea below. The bubbles should be small and uniform without the large bubbles that Takemoto calls "frog eyes."

Takemoto is the focus of this week's Voices from the Walla Walla Valley, at wallawallavoices.com.

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