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“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 Book of Tea, by Okakura Kakuzo is perhaps the best-known volume about tea written and published in English.
In 1906, in turn-of-the century Boston, a small, esoteric book about tea was written with the intention of being read aloud in the famous salon of Isabella Gardner, Boston's most famous socialite.
Written by Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea is truly a lovely work. He discusses such topics as Zen and Taoism, but also the secular aspects of tea and Japanese life, with an emphasis on how Teaism taught the Japanese many things, most importantly, simplicity.
Kakuzo goes into detail about the spiritual development of Japan and how the celebration of tea, developed from a fusion of Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism.
He reflects on all elements of the tea ceremony, from the story of its 16th-century founder, the Zen monk Rikiu, to teahouse architecture, and the perfect water (mountain spring) it should be made from.
His delicate verbal images are a delight, and in his "twilight of evergreens" we share the teaists’ appreciation of beauty in simplicity.
More than a century later, Kakuzo's The Book of Tea is still much beloved the world over, making it an essential part of any tea enthusiast's collection.
Interwoven with a rich history of Japanese tea and its place in Japanese society is commentary on Asian culture and our ongoing fascination with it, as well as illuminating essays on art, spirituality, poetry, and love.
OKAKURA KAKUZO (1862-1913) was a Japanese philosopher, art expert, and curator, who contributed to the development of arts in Japan. The Book of Tea was a major part of the Orientalist movement and is known to have heavily influenced both T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.