I must say that after finishing this movie earlier today it immediately climbed my unofficial, unmade list of favorite movies ever to one of the top rankings. I went in with zero expectation, how I think all movies should be viewed but of course that is not realistic, and was absorbed and delighted by it the entire time.
I feel not the need to tell you about the plot because if you're interested in the movie you've probably already read up on it, but just know that each actor plays their part brilliantly and with charm (with special props to Tatsuya Gashuin and Maya Banno who played the grandfather and daughter, respectively). I've heard some plot complaints coming from other reviewers and while the movie is a tad waiver-y the subplots and personal missions of each of the five family members are enthralling and not only tie together in the end but left me feeling enlightened. At the risk of being dramatic, I even found the movie inspiring.
The setting of the movie is absolutely beautiful; in a quaint, rural community all of the cinematography is admirable and adds to the rustic simplicity which the movie contains. Many scenes reminded me of the animated movie "My Neighbour Totoro" and being a fan of that movie made "The Taste of Tea" feel even more special.
The film has a definite originality to it and I doubt there is anything else quite like it around. Each character is quirky but none to the point of irritability or where they feel like caricatures. I was in fact charmed with the entire family.
The movie has a few sad moments but overall is not to be taken seriously. There are many funny scenes, one in which I actually burst out laughing, and the actions and mannerisms of the family members kept the movie consistently fresh. Some of the things that happen are absurd so I think it is important to remember to not take things too seriously.
The movie is an extremely endearing, poignant case study on a rural Japanese family, packed with humor, drama, quests to better one's self and above all an eccentric gusto which carries the movie throughout. I would whole heartedly recommend it to any fan of Asian cinema, art-house cinema or perhaps anybody with an open mind.