Kakuzo Okakura

The Book of Tea

“Teaism, is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. . .It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect.”

The Book of Tea is a beautiful essay on the aestheticism of the Japanese tea ceremony. Scholar Kakuzo Okakura (1862 – 1913) wrote in English to acquaint the West with the harmony, purity, and mystery of this honored ritual.

Okakura draws out the deep humanity of the ceremony. For example, he illustrates its economic balance, notes its quiet beauty, and extols the fortifying aspects of personal care. Above all, Okakura finds that attention to tea and ceremony winds us down. It might even return us to our best self.

As a hopeless tea enthusiast, this abundant love for tea is exactly appropriate.

I gravitate towards books that open widely with guidance and teaching. This is one. Another is Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled which ushers us gently into writing poetry. Or director Sidney Lumet’s Making Movies a book simply written but bestowing a mountain of insight on a marvelous topic.