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MLB stars take part in Japanese tea ceremony

Fowler, Choate, Santiago perform formal steps of tradition that dates to 14th century
MLB.com

TOKYO -- A day after arriving to Tokyo from Osaka via bullet train, Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler, Cardinals reliever Randy Choate and Angels pitcher Hector Santiago participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony on Friday, several hours before their game against the Japanese National Team at the Tokyo Dome (6 p.m. JT, 4 a.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.TV).

After strolling through a garden with Buddhist statues and magnificently manicured greenery, the trio of players representing Major League Baseball in the Japan All-Star Series were treated to Matcha, a powdered green tea, and assorted sweets as part of a tradition that dates back to the 14th century.

TOKYO -- A day after arriving to Tokyo from Osaka via bullet train, Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler, Cardinals reliever Randy Choate and Angels pitcher Hector Santiago participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony on Friday, several hours before their game against the Japanese National Team at the Tokyo Dome (6 p.m. JT, 4 a.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.TV).

After strolling through a garden with Buddhist statues and magnificently manicured greenery, the trio of players representing Major League Baseball in the Japan All-Star Series were treated to Matcha, a powdered green tea, and assorted sweets as part of a tradition that dates back to the 14th century.

In addition to the tea and treats themselves, Fowler, Choate and Santiago were taught and then performed the formal steps and phrases used before, during and after the drinking of the tea, as well as the proper way to sit on one's knees during the ceremony.

"To experience the tradition and to experience a special moment with them was unbelievable," Fowler said. "It's awesome to see their culture and to be able to experience it authentically. We're very humbled with the opportunity, and excited."

For Choate, this visit to Japan is not his first. He was here in the mid-1990s while pitching for Florida State, but has said that he did not get to experience the culture then as much as he would have liked. That has changed on this trip.

"It was very interesting," Choate said of the tea ceremony. "It seems to be very important to them that you enjoy your experience. They take great care and pride in their traditions. It was a neat experience."

As far as their enjoyment of the tea itself, Santiago admits to having some trepidation before the ceremony concerning how it would taste. But in the end, he was all smiles.

"I was a little nervous about it at first, but it wasn't too bad," he said. "It's pretty cool the way they go about the things they do here. It was a pretty awesome experience."

Fowler liked the tea as well. He also made an interesting comparison while describing its flavor.

"It kind of tasted like a wheatgrass shot, but a warm one, which was better than a cold one," he said.

Fowler was also part of a light moment during the ceremony. The traditional position of sitting on one's knees posed a challenge for the 6-foot-4 outfielder, who is sometimes referred to as "Daddy Long Legs." Indeed, Fowler had to take a couple of breaks to stretch his legs, as did Santiago.

"I don't know how they kneel that long in that position, but all around it was pretty good," Santiago said.

David Venn is executive editor of LasMayores.com.

Randy Choate, Dexter Fowler, Hector Santiago