Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo

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One of the classic books for any tea library is now illustrated and expanded for a modern tea audience by Bruce Richardson. Find it in the gift shops at the Gardner Museum in Boston, the Freer Galleries at the Smithsonian and the O'Keeffe Museum Santa Fe.
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by Okakura Kakuzo

Introduction by Bruce Richardson

2016 Illustrated Edition

Discover the fascinating character of Okakura Kakuzo and the story of how he came to write one of the twentieth century’s most influential books on art, beauty, and simplicity—all steeped in the world’s communal cup of tea. His incredible journey took him from Yokohama to New York, Paris, Bombay, and Boston, where his life intertwined with such luminaries as Rabindranath Tagore, John Singer Sargent, Henry James, John La Farge, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Ezra Pound, and Henri Matisse. His writings influenced the work of such notable artists as Frank Lloyd Wright and Georgia O'Keeffe.

American tea writer Bruce Richardson includes many historical photographs and illustrations in this updated edition of Okakura’s classic text, along with unique insight into how Okakura's philosophy continues to inspire today’s tea culture. Plus, Richardson includes an all-new chapter on America's thirst for Japanese tea during the late 1800s, illustrated with archival photographs.

Published by Benjamin Press. Call 800.765.2139 for wholesale information
Hardcover with jacket, 104 pages, 50 illustrations

ISBN 978-0-9836106-0-1

Norwood Pratt: "A beautiful work of art in tribute to a beautiful work of art". 

For those of us who, for years, have loved and been influenced by Okakura's prose and philosophy, this new edition brings fresh insight and clarity to the work. With sensitivity, admiration and profound appreciation for Okakura, Bruce Richardson unravels the complex and intriguing story that lies behind the original Book of Tea. All tea lovers will treasure this beautiful and valuable work.

-Jane Pettigrew, London

I had read about Okakura and visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, but never realized the importance of the relationship between the two and how they embodied the bridge between East and West.  Nor, until now, had I taken the time to read the entire book.  How I wish that I had read it before I visited Japan where I learned that “Zen is another word for tea.” The chapter titled The Cup of Humanity contains a sentence that seems ripped from today’s headlines, “The heaven of modern humanity is indeed shattered in the Cyclopean struggle for wealth and power… Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea."  I’m resisting the urge to swallow this book whole, and forcing myself to savor it one cup of tea at a time.

-Elizabeth Knight, author of "Tea with Friends"




Available in these fine gift shops -The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston The Smithsonian's Frear/Sackler Galleries, Washington The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe 

Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.

- Okakura Kakuzo

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An open window into the tea gardens of Japan.
Fred (OH) 4/26/2016 1:15 PM
This is the second version of "The Book of Tea" I have owned. This version has some good photographs and an extensive introduction. This book is a must have for anyone with any level of interest in Taoism, Zen, Teaism, Tea, or Japanese culture and it's relations with the West. The writer also includes a chapter on art appreciation and flower arrangement, and the influence of Teaism on those particular arts, among others. Okakura Kakuzo was a wordsmith beyond poetic in his prose descriptions of the Orient. His observations about America and western ways are incisive and deep. There is a reason he is so revered by those who know.
5.0 out of 5 starsIt's not just about a cup of tea!
Cassy (Cape Cod) 4/26/2016 1:13 PM
A great book for anyone who enjoys learning more about the mingling of eastern and western cultures. Okakura made a statement in the Boston area, and he influenced many greats such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Georgia O' Keeffe. This book was a gift, and it surprised me, you can't judge a book by it's cover!
Duncan Newcomer (New Harmony, IN) 4/26/2016 1:12 PM
If you can have two or three or four cups of tea then you can have several editions of the classic "The Book of Tea." This new one could be your Best One. Or maybe you've never really read or bought an edition of this philosophical, poetic, and seemingly ancient book. This one -- after you read Bruce Richardson's introduction -- would be the one you really read, and savor. It is both pleasant and penetrating to slowly read Bruce's clear and original take on Okakura. Sipping his short introduction reveals the story of how Okakura "came to tea" as the metaphor for bringing the spirit of an Eastern aesthetic thought to a growing Western materialism. What makes this edition a useful and elegant addition to your library is that you too will feel Okakura's passion for this humane world view, captured in a cup of tea, as you will also feel that same passion in Bruce's deeply thought, originally researched, retelling of this story. That alone would be enough to make any thinking tea drinker want this book. The added extraordinary photographs, art and scholarship sweeten the pot, just right. Duncan Newcomer, New Harmony, Indiana