I kneel on a tatami mat as my host silently performs a centuries-old ritual: After bowing, folding, wiping, scooping and whisking, she eventually lifts up a delicate tea bowl filled with forest-green matcha and places it before me.

This may sound like a pretty typical Japanese tea ceremony — except for one key detail. My “host” is not a kimono-clad tea master who has honed her skills following decades of dedicated practice. It’s my 8-year-old daughter, albeit with a very grown-up face as she tries not to spill anything (and her unusually still little sister, aged 6, is doing the same thing just next to her).

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