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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about The Book of Tea

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A moving narration of The Book of Tea

Any additional comments?

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.

5 people found this helpful

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An uplifting beverage!

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.

4 people found this helpful

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The Depth of Tea

Breathtaking. A book about finding meaning in simplicity. The book is short, powerful, quiet, and well written.

1 person found this helpful

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Nice reading of a cultural history

I bought this out of sheer boredom. It was, somehow a good choice. The author expresses the traditional aspects of tea service, tea rooms, and tea culture from a personal experience. Well placed mentions of Western acceptance of tea, and Christian intrusion actually kept me listening. I appreciate most that dating is by the date established by the death of Christ, and that not only helps me understand, but there is no Christian doctrine expressed.

That single point, that Christians, proclaiming to be on a mission of bringing the gospel to all people, is by Asian culture offensive because it is one way only is startling. Missionaries are ineffective because they are not willing to understand culture different from their own. This helps settle the underlying issues Western and European culture face in understanding.

Simple things, like Japanese and Chinese decorative ascetics being very different, but such difference being unnoticed by other societies is rather profound. I am guilty of not seeing a problem because I refuse to think someone has a valid, if different perspective. Things like valuing art because of the artist, rather than the piece of art being valuable for its beauty. Or our propensity for repetitive decor, like having a picture of ourselves on the wall while we are also in the room. Or, using all the same flowers, in pictures, and in vases, and on the plates on the table.

The narrator had a very nice, soothing voice. While the subject was mildly interesting, Mr. Kohen made listening relaxing. Well worth the few pennies for a couple hours' listening.

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Good information

It contains some interesting things that people might not have known, new perceptions.
But it is very attached to its own view of the world, and is very adamant in propelling it’s own beliefs.

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Philosophy with sprinkles of tea

Not a bad book, but not what I was wanting. It talks greatly about tea and it's history for a while. The last two thirds to half is all about philosophy and opinion. Would have been a great last chapter instead of taking up that much space. It was well preformed.

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it's ok

as long as you get this for cheap it's worth it. Pretty much the history of the tea ceremony and some Zen history.

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unexpected but enjoyed

It includes a lot of background, depth and thoughts about Zen and flowers and westerners... which gives us an interesting perspective into the Japanese tea culture.

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To Simple Pleasures

This is a book written at the turn of the last century reflecting on how the speed of life caused by the industrial revolution was causing people to forget about slowing down and examining the simple pleasures of life. Even though it was written about a time over a hundred years ago many of its points and reflections apply to modern life in the western world.
This book is slow, and it's more of an essay or a meditation on a topic. But the slowness and thoroughness of the book felt right with the topic being examined. If you take it in sips and think on what the author has to say you may find it has a profound effect on how you look at things. I know it had one on me.

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intro to the ritual of tea

the tea ritual is an important part of Japanese tradition. It is not supposed to be easily acquired and this text is not so easily absorbed. Perfect