Book of Tea, Hardback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Written in English in 1906 (exactly 100 years ago), this seminal text on the meaning and practice of the tea ceremony was a pioneering effort in cultural bridge-building between East and West.

Okakura perceived cha-no-yu - literally "Way of Tea" - as a form of spiritual culture: a discipline that transforms itself into an 'art of life' rooted in the religious values of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

It encompasses an appreciation of the most ordinary details of daily life, and at its core lies a moral geometry that keeps us mindful of our place in the greater scheme of the universe. "The Book of Tea" may have been written one hundred years ago, but it continues to resonate as deeply with readers today as it did when it was written.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 156 pages, b&w
  • Publisher: Kodansha America, Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Buddhism
  • ISBN: 9784770030146



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This is a delightful book, written about 100 years ago, about the tea ceremony, its spiritual roots and its influence on Japanese culture.The writer traces the roots of the tea ceremony in Taoism and Zen Buddhism, emphasising the importance of enjoying the present moment and seeing beauty in small, everyday things. He shows how the purity and simplicity of the tea-room came from emulation of the Zen monastery, and this in turn influenced Japanese architecture for centuries. There were some wonderful observations, for example on the deliberate avoidance of symmetry or repetition in the decoration of the tea-room, on the grounds that "True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally completed the incomplete." The process was more important than attempting a perfect end result.The writing itself is a thing of elegant beauty. Here's a brief example:"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."

Review by

I'm not going to ooh and aah over this book. There is some lovely writing in here, but I'm rather lukewarm at best on this one. A mildly interesting book that was first published in 1906. My edition was published in 2005 and includes a forward and afterward by Hounsai Genshitsu Sen which is almost as interesting as the book itself, and invaluable in helping to understand this book. The book is a bit of a history lesson on tea and Japanese culture and ways of thought. More about the Japanese way of thinking and appreciation for certain arts than anything else. When it was published Japan was just embarking on a path that was not enlightened. It is impossible for me to not think about what was to come. The author clearly believes the East is better than the West. I was hoping for a bit of enlightenment, but came away unimpressed.

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