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The Book of Tea

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  9,556 ratings  ·  998 reviews
Now available in a gorgeous hardcover slipcase edition, this "object d'art" will be sure to add grace and elegance to tea shelves, coffee tables and bookshelves. A keepsake enjoyed by tea lovers for over a hundred years, The Book of Tea Classic Edition will enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the seemingly simple act of making and drinking tea.

In 1906 in turn-of-th
Hardcover Slipcased , Classic Edition, 133 pages
Published 1989 by Tuttle (first published 1906)
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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 man who is truly vain, for there is
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!

"The tea-master,
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 book also goe
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 the e
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
Matt Riddle
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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 fields as philosophy, relig
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
That ending. Wow.

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.

Jan 19, 20
Steven Walle
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
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
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, spiritual a
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 how and why tea in Japan has long ...more
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 it's pretty!
“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.”

Published in 1906, Teaism is a stunning essay that focuses on the cultural aspects of Japanese life. Beautifully written, this long essay deals w
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 fishes swim
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 opposition of
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.
Kathy K.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!
Not a quick read.
Quite intellectual and philosophical,
But enjoyable.
Not so much about tea as about the
Countries that brought Tea to the
Point where it is today.💜♓️
I wish the book was longer

This book is about more than tea. Philosophy, preserving culture, the nature of man and the role of “state”, spirituality, interior design, and floral arrangement.

Beautiful writing and thought provoking. I can see why the author worked hard in his lifetime to preserve Japanese art and culture. You can also see why Joseph Campbell would make it required reading for his classes and how it may be reflected in some of his writing.
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 to Chado lea
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delicate and profound

A soliloquy on tea and its rituals, primarily the Japanese Zen style, by a scholar whose ardent favour and incisive commentary still shine through in today's modern context.
Read all my reviews on

3.5 Stars

This was one interesting booklet from the Little Black Classics. It's fun how it sometimes throws things at you that you were not expecting. This is, as the name suggests, a book on Tea. It also tries to turn tea in a philosophy, but I mainly found the information on the traditional ways of making/drinking tea and the ceremonies interesting.

A short but nice read.

~Little Black Classics #112~
Megha Chakraborty
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.

Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
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
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. Naturall
Fergus Murray
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 Teaism, a we
Okakura uses tea, a drink partaken of in both East and West, as a way of demystifying Japanese culture and challenging Orientalism in Europe and America. Written in English for a Western audience, it is a wonderfully poetic introduction to Japanese culture and aesthetics.
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.
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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 Imperi

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