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The Book of Tea - Review

by Kakuzo Okakura



The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

This week we take a selection from The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. There is a new edition with an introduction by Sam Hamill and some nice new photos.

Tea is a work of art and needs a master hand to bring out its noblest qualities. We have good and bad tea, as we have good and bad paintings - generally the latter. There is no single recipe for making the perfect tea, as there are no rules for producing a Titian or a Sesson. Each preparation of the leaves has its individuality, its special affinity with water and heat, it's hereditary memories to recall, its own method of telling a story. The truly beautiful must always be in it. How much do we not suffer through the constant failure of society to recognize this simple and fundamental law of art and life; Lichihlai, a Sung poet, has sadly remarked that there were three most deplorable things in the world: the spoiling of fine youths through false education, the degradation of fine paintings through vulgar admiration, and the utter waste of fine tea through incompetent manipulation.

Like art, tea has its periods and its schools. Its evolution may be roughly divided into three main stages: the boiled tea, the whipped tea, and the steeped tea. We moderns belong to the last school.

For those of you who enjoy the whipped tea, we suggest Matcha, powdered green tea prepared by whisking until it has a froth on top.

The Book of Tea (2000 edition) is available at

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(Updated: 12/22/10 CT)

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