Saudi Arabia/Japan: Japanese High Tea in the Land of Sweet Tea and Bibles

When I was in Saudi Arabia I found it easy and wonderful to meet individuals from all differing parts of the world.  A Saudi friend and I created our own grassroots group which we dubbed the “Women’s Exchange Experience.”  We invited our expatriate and Saudi friends (female) through word of mouth or email to plan on getting together once a month as a group.  The gathering had a planned agenda and ending time.  The first 20 minutes or so would be dedicated to introductions and networking since most women did not know each other.  Once the majority of guests had arrived, either my friend or I would give the formal introduction of welcome and share the agenda of the evening.  Our agenda’s would vary from discussing topics of interest between Saudis and expatriates or could even be demonstrations of food and culture from one of the Saudi woman or expatriate woman.  What was important is that the Women’s Exchange Experience brought together women who would otherwise not have met each other.  It broke barriers between Saudi women and expatriate women.

It’s easy for expatriates to routinely meet other expats or for Saudis to meet other Saudis.  But it had not been easy for expatriate and Saudi women to have opportunities to socialize and get to know one another.


(above photo is American Bedu with two of her expatriate friends at her home in Charlotte, NC., dressed for the Japanese High Tea)


I’m in Charlotte, NC now as I continue the battle with cancer.  I am living in the Bible belt of the Southern United States!  Initially as I was settling in I thought that perhaps my hey days of getting to know individuals from differing cultures and customs might be over but thankfully I was very mistaken.  This blog has continued to bring me close to people from all over the world and share experiences, culture and customs.


Thanks to my blog, I’ve been brought together with some amazing and well-traveled American women who have each spent significant time in the GCC, to include Saudi Arabia.  They are in the same area as me and they also miss the opportunities to reminiscence about the “expat days.”  We got together a few weeks ago and you could say had our own small version of “WEE.”  One of the dear ladies who is soon departing to Riyadh to join her husband who is already working there brought her Japanese neighbors with her to the gathering at my home.

(above photo is our Master at Japanese High Tea.  She is explaining about how to prepare and serve the tea.)


One of the Japanese ladies is a Master at preparing and serving a Japanese High Tea.  We three American expatriate ladies were treated to such a unique and lovely experience where from my living room in Charlotte we transposed ourselves as if we were VIP guests in a five star hotel in Tokyo and presented with a high tea.  I would try to explain the step by step process but I’m afraid I would mangle it.  I learned that each guest’s tea is prepared and served individually in a bowl with meaning and beauty.  There is a protocol followed when receiving and accepting the bowl as well as how one drinks the tea in a few short gulps.  After drinking the tea the bowl is carefully turned and admired before giving it back to the Master.  It was an honor to have this experience.  Through this experience not only were my horizons broadened but I now have some lovely Japanese friends here within the Southern tranquility of Charlotte, North Carolina.


I am hopeful that at some point I may get to know some Saudis who are in the Charlotte area too.

(in the photo above American Bedu is given the opportunity to prepare a bowl of tea for the Master!)

 (American Bedu and her expatriate friends enjoying themselves in Charlotte, NC)


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