It’s difficult to come across a torpid tea-drinker, one who doesn’t have a leisurely interest to pursue while devouring the beverage sip by sip. Those who are glued to the print oeuvre can glance at a beautiful classic selection. Tastefully, this book has to do with the tradition of tea and brings into light unknown oriental practices of the East. The Book of Tea, vintage and original in its glory, was pioneered because of deep love for art and culture. The English penmanship by Okakura Kakuzo was principally addressed to the West. This 1906 book is one of the oldest in its kind, declaring the Japanese abstraction called ‘teaism” to the world. We think that your reading hour will be more alluring once you swoop into Kakuzo’s insights.
The Japanese translation of this book states sadou as a term for teaism, which is nothing other than the Tea Ceremony. Through a respected ceremony, tea is given the importance that it deserves in order to establish harmony amongst all. In the introductory chapter, our author emphasizes on cultural differences between the East and the West. During that era, the oriental culture was even more alien to the US and Europe. The optimism here is displayed within the quote “Strangely enough, humanity has so far met in the tea cup”. Tea has therefore united us all through time because in all countries and divisions, the love for tea is indisputable.
The next chapter comprises of tea history and trivia which is an interesting read. For example, we get to know about how powdered tea continued in Japan, but faded from China. From there, we shift into philosophy where Eastern concepts like Taoism and Zennism are discussed in serpentine details. It’s absorbing for philosophy lovers, but the amateurs of the genre might find this to be more stretched than they bargained for. Zen is as pleasant to read about as it is in the form of tangible art and architecture. The part about its influence on a tea room’s anatomy is truly wonderful and transports the reader into a state of poetic relaxation.
This book would have been incomplete about its view on art and how the name of the artist gathers more popularity than the work at display. You must be struggling to find a connection with tea here, but it has to do with the concept of the tea master and tea itself. The connection is understated and impactful, if you are willing to devote your attention to it. He concludes the book with an entire chapter on Tea maters, where Sen no Rikyu and his contribution to the Japanese tea ceremony is discussed.
The Book of Tea will not tell you much about tea or its industry, but shed light on a lot of cultural nuances associated with it. It is a showcase of simplicity and might be effective in instilling in you a need to make tea consumption more than a rushed routine. We hope that you enjoy the aesthetics and Kakuzo’s delicate manner of writing.