Caroline's Reviews > The Book of Tea

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
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Oct 27, 2010

did not like it
Read in October, 2010

I should have thought to read other reviews about this book before picking it up because I thought this was going to be a book that told me all I'd want to know about tea. What it turned out to be is a book that doesn't live up to its title.

I was expecting to read about the history of tea, who started to drink it first, how they drank it, and how the practice of drinking tea spread. The initial chapters did manage to cover some of this, and I enjoyed the first third of the book as it traced the practice of drinking tea through China, Japan and India. It also introduced Taoism, Buddhism and Zen philosophy but that was a nice complement to the practice of drinking tea. From there, we went into the architecture of Japanese tea houses and at that point, all references to tea seemed rather incidental as the author took us then to comparisons between the Japanese minimalist approach to artistic perfection in architecture, interior decoration, art and flower arrangement.

I was expecting to learn about how the different types of tea were grown and harvested. I was expecting to learn about how the teas are blended, how different cultures drink their tea and how their tea drinking practices evolved over time. I was expecting to learn about tea ceremonies (if any) in different countries and the significance behind the rituals. There were references to tea masters in this book, but no explanation about how one became a tea master ... I assume it's more than just drinking and making copious pots of tea? I was expecting to learn about any medicinal properties in tea, and even how tea is sometimes used in some cuisines. I was expecting to read about the evolution of tea from its simple beginnings to the more complex offerings available today.

And all my expectations were left unfulfilled. The author appeared to have forgotten what he started out to write.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Amanda The back of the book said it was about the tea ceremony. That's why I read it. I like to read people's reviews after I read the book. I especially like the ones who rate the books low they are often rather insightful about life.


Samuel Howard "The author appeared to have forgotten what he started out to write." - How do you know what he 'started to write'? You already stated that you'd not researched the book before you read it, and didn't know what you were in for. How can you rate a book poorly because it wasn't what YOU thought it would be? I found the book very insightful and beautifully-written, dealing more with the philosophy of tea and it's position in the constellation of Japanese culture rather than how to obtain a title or brew a beverage.


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