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The Book of Tea

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  8,621 ratings  ·  875 reviews
That a nation should construct one of its most resonant national ceremonies round a cup of tea will surely strike a chord of sympathy with at least some readers of this review. To many foreigners, nothing is so quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony--more properly, "the way of tea"--with its austerity, its extravagantly minimalist stylization, and its concentration ...more
Kindle Edition, 44 pages
Published January 1st 1997 (first published 1906)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Just a few things:

* If you find yourself moving 13 times across 4 cities in 3 states over a period of less than 3 years, you'll notice that your bedroom looks more and more like a Japanese tea room each time.

* Monzaemon Chikamatsu is referred to in this text as the "Japanese Shakespeare." Will I be seeking this man's work out as soon as possible? Damn right! Pfft...don't threaten me with a good time.

* "We have an old saying in Japan that a woman cannot love a ma
Sidharth Vardhan

In the trembling grey of a spring dawn, when the birds were whispering in mysterious cadence among the trees, have you not felt that they were talking to their mates about the flowers?"

"True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally complete the incomplete.”

Just wow!

"Rikiu loved to quote an old poem which says: "To those who long only for flowers, fain would I show the full-blown spring which abides in the toiling buds of snow-covered hills."

More wow!
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tea lovers and Japanophiles
This book was just wonderful. It discusses the history of teaism in Asia (mainly Japan but also China). It’s written in a very poetic and philosophical manner. Not only does the book talk about tea, it also talks about how tea has influenced Japanese culture, especially Japanese cuisine, clothing, literature and art.

I learned some quite surprising facts. For example, onions were added to tea in some places, and tea-drinking was considered to be an occupation of depraved people!

The b
Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.

The last time I felt what this book conjured up in me, I was in Medieval Art, transcribing the parts of cathedrals in relation to aspects of religion, art, and space. Approaching the choir on high through the humbling nave, raising th
This book is about so much more than tea. This is about how something as seemingly simple as a beverage can define a culture’s history, philosophy and aesthetics. When it was originally published in 1906, the East was just opening to the West, and they had few cultural bridges to use to form bonds and begin to understand each other. But both hemispheres shared a love of tea, and a certain ritualization of its consumption. Through the history of the preparation of tea, and how the beverage travel ...more
That ending. Wow.

Matt Riddle
The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō

Too little tea, we learn, was a Japanese expression used in reference to a person too busy to stop and smell the roses. Too much tea, then, refers to a person so busy smelling the roses he has little time for much else. In my humble estimation, Mr. Okakura had a little too much tea in him.

The Book of Tea makes a number of interesting points. I agree with its author that we Occidentals tend to downplay the Orient’s contributions to such fie
Steven Walle
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good book on the history of tea and it's importance in the eastern cultures. Tea started out as a medicine and grew itself into a beverage. The book also speaks of the religion of Japan of Teaism.
I recommend this book to all.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
It is easy to understand why Joseph Campbell, the much-loved professor of mythology and literature, included this book on his students’ required reading list. It is a profound little masterpiece that sheds light on complex ideas using simple explanations and examples, like Campbell did.

Kakuzo Okakura lived primarily in Japan but travelled widely and wrote in English. He is attempting to provide a kind of bridge between East and West, and with these essays that explore the historical,
Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.

It’s not a book about tea, in the sense that it’s not about how to drink your tea, what sorts you can get and what fancy properties they have and sho“Teaism
First published in 1906, this classic work written in English having only seven short chapters is something rare and essential to those interested in Japanese culture. It is rare because few Japanese writers have written in English, even Natsume Soseki who studied in England in 1901-1903 ( wrote most of his stories and novels in Japanese. Moreover, it is essential since reading this book would broaden our understanding on ...more
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Artists, Buddhists, Teaists, and any other kind of "ist" that loves beauty.
Okakura Kakuzo writes that he is "not a polite teaist." This is true. In the Book of Tea, he more or less shames the world, in particular his own countrymen, for subscribing to Western aesthetics. He also makes it clear how he feels about said aesthetics and the junk art coming out of the cluttered, cheap and materialistic culture of 19th century Europe and America. That said, I didn't like this book because I'm a self-deprecating whitey.

I liked this book first and foremost because i
Anne ✨
(3.5) Written in 1095 by a Japenese philospher, exploring the history of tea in the east, the Japanese relationship with tea, and comparisons to the notions of tea in western culture.

The book is philosophical in tone, covers not just tea, but a bit of history, culture, and religion. There is beautiful writing and thoughtful passages to be savored slowly, while sipping your tea of course 🍵

There are three stages of boiling: the first boil is when the little bubbles like the eye of fish/>
This is an exquisite little cultural history of Japan centred around the tea ceremony and a philosophy of "teaism" which includes elements of Zen and Taoism.

It's also a work of art and design philosophy which especially falls into place on realising it was written in the wake of the Western aesthetic movement of the late nineteenth century. (The Book of Tea was first published in 1906.) The Japanese perspective described here seems to unite, or else trace a middle way between, the oppositio(The
Katie Lumsden
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really fascinating little collection of essays, dealing with Japanese culture at the turn of the twentieth-century, especially the tea ceremony and the culture and philosophy that springs from it. I found this really interesting and readable, although possibly more enjoyable if you have vague background knowledge of Japanese and Chinese history and schools of philosophy.
Lubinka Dimitrova
Well... I suppose, some books will speak to you, and some won't but in this particular case the author's cringe-worthy comments regarding the Occident's weltanschauung put me off from the very beginning. There were some mildly interesting passages later on, but all in all, this book was not exactly my cup of tea. Too much philosophical and/or poetic digressions, too little information on tea itself. Still searching for a readable book about tea.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book. It's amazing to see what changes in this world, and also what stays the same. 4/08

I had a moment of epiphany yesterday, when I realized that I wanted to study the tea ceremony (again) while I'm in Japan, and said something to my mom about wanting to find a teacher. Then today by total coincidence one of my students hands me a page she wrote for me about Chado (the tea ceremony) and the end of is says "I hope that this answer will encourage you to open the door
Megha Chakraborty
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I normally recommend towards the end of my reviews, but this time I recommend to read it in the beginning. Ill say, read it asap, its a small book won't take much time to finish. I have always liked Japanese writing, it has a natural flow and its minimalistic which is the best part. Here the author tells us about Tea, don't get confused by the name it has much more than just tea, it takes a stand on everything. It has so much to give you, life lessons, art lessons, everything you need to know.

Okakura asks

'When will the West understand, or try to understand, the East?'

The circumstances in which he asks this question have greatly changed, but the concern remains. Okakura gives a sort of Pan-Asian outline of the aesthetics and philosophy that surround the simple act of tea-drinking, but his lasting achievement - and perhaps this was his intent all along - is to hint at the absolute gulf, the void of knowledge that even a decently culturally-educated person such as myself, if I can be so in
Ivonne Rovira
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Tea does, of course, deal with what the author, Okakura Kakuzō, calls Teaism and the history of the tea ceremony in Japan; however, this elegiac, philosophical work deals with much more: the influences of Taoism on Zen Buddhism, the unquestioning embrace of everything Western during the Meiji Restoration, the perfection of imperfection and much more.

This short book really made me think about the Western emphasis on the novel and faddish at the expense of the tried and true. Naturally,
Fergus Murray
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tea
Kakuzo Okakura's The Book of Tea is a sixty-five-page classic which is as much about Eastern patterns of thought as it is about the history and traditions of tea drinking. We are introduced to Teaism (chado), the philosophy of life and tea-drinking that emerged in 15th century Japan as a hot-drink-focused variation on (or aspect of) Zen Buddhism, which itself came out of the mingling of Taoism with the teachings of Buddha in southern China. A particular outlook on life is expressed through the p ...more
Asha Seth
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to learn about Teaism
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading this book as I'd read somewhere that this is one of the greatest tea classics of all times, not that I knew what a TEA CLASSIC is.

In the Indian society, it is a cultural norm to offer tea to guests and visitors. It is quite a tradition that is being followed since ages. So when I read about tea culture and Teaism, I was almost certain that I'd read this book someday since its known to cast light on the significance of tea cultures.

This book gives a deep insight on
When will the West understand, or try to understand, the East? We Asiatics are often appalled by the curious web of facts and fancies which has been woven concerning us. We are pictured as living on the perfume of the lotus, if not on mice and cockroaches.

He writes about tea, philosophy, religion, architecture, aesthetics, design, history, and lots more in this attempt to explain the East to Westerners. Absolutely beautiful, an incredible essay.
Dalia Mahdy
This book does not only describe tea as the hot drink we know and love, it discusses the rituals of tea drinking in Asia along with some cultural and religious aspects of the Japanese life, and is mainly addressed to western audience.
Meghan Fidler
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was, at first, disappointed with this little book, for I had mistaken it as a partial translation of one it's elders: the Classic of Tea (茶经) written by Lu Yu (733-804), for example. The fact that Okakura was an Japanese immigrant living in Boston with rich art patrons for followers seemed like an early 20th century version of Karate Kid sensibilities: a "wisdom of the East" transmitted to rich whites in poorly translated Daoist quips.
This initial impression was much mistaken. The book conta
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book isn't just about tea; it's more about Zen and aesthetics. I loved the following story:

Once in the Ravine of Lungmen stood a Kiri tree, a veritable king of the forest. It reared its head to talk to the stars; its roots struck deep into the earth, mingling their bronzed coils with those of the silver dragon that slept beneath. And it came to pass that a mighty wizard made of this tree a wondrous harp, whose stubborn spirit should be tamed but by the greatest musicians. For long the inst
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, non-fiction
Move aside Coffee for here comes Tea with its loaded history.

Never before had I seen a beverage so defended, and so cherished, as in The Book of Tea. Okakura's work explores the history, and impact, of tea in the evolution of the Japanese culture. He went to great lengths to present this objective that he had to use (coin?) the word "Teaism" to point out its singularity. He claims that tea permeated the Japanese way of life in his time, and before. If it was so in the 20th century, s
'Tis said that Chowmushih slept in a boat so that his dreams might mingle with those of the lotus. It was the same spirit which moved the Empress Komio, one of our most renowned Nara sovereigns, as she sang: "If I pluck thee, my hand will defile thee, O flower! Standing in the meadows as thou art, I offer thee to the Buddhas of the past, of the present, of the future."

I can’t begin to describe how calm and blessed I feel that such a masterpiece exists in my hands. Reading this book helped me te
Michael Mills
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, classics
Part guide, part history of Eastern philosophy, part semiotic analysis, if there's one thing you won't get from this book it's how to make a decent cup of chai.

Taking as his basis the argument that tea was the one Eastern ritual to have been fully assimilated into Western culture (this was written a long time before Pokémon, sushi and hentai), Okakura uses it as a gateway to an explanation of fundamental differences between Eastern and Western philosophies. And he does a very good job of turnin
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody with a philosophical mind wanting to learn more on minimalism and simplicity
at first as the title suggests, i thought this book was merely about tea. however, it is about much more than that. to put it justly it uses tea and tea ceremony as a metaphor for deeper cultural, aesthetic, historical and philosophic issues. it uses tea as a metaphor to examine many facets of japanese life and culture. it is quite interesting and intriguing and and sheds light on a good deal of issues that many ponder on with regards to the orient. it was written for westerners in mind to have ...more
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Okakura Kakuzō (岡倉覚三), also known as Okakura Tenshin (岡倉 天心), was a Japanese scholar who contributed the development of arts in Japan. Outside Japan, he is chiefly remembered today as the author of 'The Book of Tea'.

Born in Yokohama to parents originally from Fukui, Okakura learned English while attending a school operated by Christian missionary, Dr. Curtis Hepburn. At 15, he entered Tokyo Imperial Univer
“Tea ... is a religion of the art of life.” 135 likes
“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” 101 likes
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