Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens

Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens

Konnichiwa  (Kon-ee-chee-wa) or Hello from the Asian Cultural Festival.

I wanted to share some notes about the Asian Cultural Festival that took place a few weeks ago at Selby Botanical Gardens here in Sarasota.

Local Tea Company sponsored Tea Ceremonies again this year on Saturday, February 27th.  Kim Pham, the owner of the Kaleisia Tea Lounge in Tampa, again presented 3 traditional ceremonies in the Great Room.  Also on display was a magnificent collection of Kimonos presented by the Manatee Sarasota Kimono Club.

The stage was set! And then it RAINED and rained all morning. It was so disappointing after all the excitement and preparations. However, the show goes on.

All the attractions that were due to take place outdoors were then moved to the same room. That meant I got to see the Japanese drummers, which was very energetic (and loud!). A martial arts demonstration followed.

Gongfu Cha

Our first ceremony was Gongfu Cha, the Chinese Tea Ceremony.  Kim talked during the ceremony guiding visitors through the relevance of each movement. For more details about the whole ceremony, visit our post from last year. Kim offered samples that intrigued everyone.

Sampling after the Gongfu Chinese Tea Ceremony at Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens
Sampling after the Gongfu Chinese Tea Ceremony


Next was Chanoyu, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which I was honored to take part in. If you have never seen this ceremony, let alone take part in one, it is truly breathtaking.

Kim briefed me before commencing the ceremony as there is no conversation during the ceremony. I bow, enter the set and kneel. It is customary to eat a sweet first, which has been prepared for the guest.  Kim enters in a traditional kimono dress and prepares the tea in tranquil, small movements. This is such a meditative part of the ceremony, and it was wonderful to be so still and in the moment despite the large room filled with people watching.  I drank the delicious matcha, and Kim reversed all her movements before leaving the ceremony area. I then followed. Visitors had the opportunity to ask questions.  Again, more details from our blog post last year.

Sampling after the Chanoyu Japanese Tea Ceremony at Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens
Chanoyu Japanese Tea Ceremony


Our last ceremony was Panyaro, the Korean Way of Tea. Kim was adorned in a stunning pink and turquoise ceremonial dress. By this time, the weather had improved, the sun came out, and most of the visitors went out into the garden. The few remaining were enchanted, including 2 members of our audience that Kim included in the ceremony.

Panyaro Korean Way of Tea at Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens
Panyaro Korean Way of Tea

I want to thank all the visitors who came to celebrate with us at the ceremonies.

It was a lovely day and an experience I look forward to repeating next year despite the weather.

The Tea Lady

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