Book Review: The Book of Tea

The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo, published by Tuttle Publishing. Hardcover, 160 pages. (Amazon)

Japanese art scholar Okakura Kakuzo, aka Tenshin, wrote The Book of Tea at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries for the intellectual elite of Boston - the city where he worked and spent most of his time outside native Japan - as a way to remedy the spiritual misunderstandings of East and West. Since its first publication in 1906, though, the book has received immense popularity amongst many people all over the world, being translated into numerous languages. But its popularity isn't due so much to its discussion of tea and the tea ceremony, but for giving a greater understanding of Eastern ideas. With chapter titles like "Cup of Humanity" and "Taoism and Zennism", Tenshin definitely recognized the importance of the tea ceremony in both illustrating Eastern ideas and as a culmination of those same ideas. While the link above provides a full transcription of the famous text, a more suitable read is achieved via either the Classic Edition or the Illustrated Edition (both by Tuttle Publishing), where the weight of the words can slowly unfold across the pages, giving the reader an insight into Japan and the Eastern spirit.