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Afternoon Tea at the Busena

By: Jena Maddalino

Date Posted: 2000-04-29

Tea, as we know it today, is reknowned for its cancer-fighting properties as well as its fine taste. Ancient Chinese mythology dates the discovery of tea back to 2737 BC. The myth says that while being served hot water, a leaf from a wild tea tree fell into the cup of Emperor Shen Nung. He enjoyed the unique taste and the rest is history.

Indian and Japanese legends tell a different story; one of Bodhidharma, the Buddhist priest who founded Zen Buddhism. In the fifth year of a seven- year sleepless meditation of Buddha he began to feel drowsy. He plucked some leaves from a bush and chewed them, releasing him from his tired state. This miracle leaf came from the wild tea tree.

Even in early times, tea was widely known to be both tasty and healthy. But, according to ancient scholars, it was not until the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 906 AD) that tea became China's national drink. And it wasn't until hundreds of years later that the art of Afternoon Tea came to fruition.

Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, is rumored to be the woman behind the original idea of having tea around four in the afternoon to stave off her hunger between lunch and dinner. The idea caught on quickly in the early 1800s and soon the sandwich was added to the tea time snack. Even today, a cup of tea is enjoyed in the afternoon in England (although the custom has evolved a bit into a posh experience at a fine hotel).

Tea lovers living in Okinawa can enjoy a relaxing weekend afternoon at the Busena Hotel in Nago. For 1600 yen, one can feast on yummy scones with jam and cream, tasty finger sandwiches of cucumber and salmon and delicate tarts of chocolate, cream and fruit.

The tea service is a truly luxurious one as you sit down in the lower lobby of the hotel. Immediately, a view of the East China Sea unfolds and in response to the surroundings your body relaxes into one of the plush seats offered. A menu is quickly given and the choice of tea is almost limitless. From Chai to Chamomile to my personal favorite, Earl Grey, almost any taste can be satisfied.

Along with the tea and snacks comes exceptional service from a staff that understands their English-speaking customers. Afternoon tea is served on the weekends from 1-6 PM at the hotel and coffee is also available as a choice instead of tea. For those who have never visited the hotel, it is well worth the trip north to see the facilities as well as the beautiful front lobby that overlooks the ocean.

Directions: Take the expressway north to the last exit, Nago. Stay on Hwy 58 (follow the blue signs above) and continue for roughly five minutes. You will see the sign for the hotel leading to the entrance on the right. Proceed through the gate and park at the lot directly across from the front of the hotel.

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