The Book of Tea is much more than a book about tea. It's a celebration of the arts and culture of Japan, and a portrait of tea ceremony, the "Way of Tea", as the pinnacle of Japanese spirituality and artistic life.
Written in 1906 by Kakuzo Okakura, curator of Chinese and Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and a noted scholar and art critic, this modern classic traces the history of tea from its early medicinal uses in China, through the development of Chinese tea culture, and finally to the role of tea in Japanese Zen, culture, and politics. In the process, Okakura weaves together the philosophies, myths, history, and poetry of China and Japan. He introduces us to tea masters, emperors, and warlords, and brings us an appreciation of the transient beauty of life that is at the heart of Japanese artistic ideals.
Okakura wrote The Book of Tea in English, and his elegant prose mirrors the refined artistry of the Japanese tea ceremony. Narrated by Ken Cohen, himself a student and practitioner of tea ceremony in the Urasenke tradition, this audiobook captures Okakura's vision of how "Teaism" can transform us and the way we see ourselves and our world.
Public Domain (P)2015 Ken Cohen
The Book of Tea is an engrossing overview of the philosophy and aesthetics of the Japanese Tea ceremony and how the “way” of tea is based deeply in Japanese Zen and in a distinctively Eastern (as opposed to Western) sensibility. This classic book written by Okakura in English in 1906 is both prescient and relevant today in its discussion of East vs. West, the material vs. the spiritual and the values brought out by Japanese tea ceremony which guide us to a more enriched and refined way of life. Ken Cohen’s narration in this audiobook perfectly captures the spirit of this essay which is written in a rich, dramatic and poetic style. Cohen gives us a moving interpretation of Okakura’s words which lead the listener directly into the way of tea.
We are a couple who love books and occasionally write reviews. We rarely read the same book so our reviews express our individual opinions.
Many Japanese art forms seek to express the transcendental through through the ordinary, and the art of tea is pre-eminent in this regard. Okakura Kauzo's elegant essay on this most Japanese of past-times invites us into the mystic world of the tea master, presents a potted history of the development of the art and concludes with a heart-rending description of the passing of the Rikyu, the most celebrated of all the masters of the way of tea. This book is a meditation, rather than an essay, and is best enjoyed as such. Wonderfully enhanced by Ken Cohen's calm and persuasive delivery, this is a book to which one surrenders, rather than just listens. Do you want to de-stress? Don't have a beer - have a cup of tea with Ken Cohen instead. You will find it very refreshing.
Some books start out slowly then get better. This one never got better. I thought this book was about how to enjoy tea but it starts out with the history of tea going back to the 1600's! The narrator made the author sound very arrogant and presumptuous. I stopped after the first 45 minutes.
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