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By taylor storey on 09-21-14
The History of the East's Aesthetic
First off, not really about tea. It's an overview of the history and philosophy of China and Japan through talking about tea. Okakura is a Japanese author who learned English at a young age, written in 1906.
I found this book by clicking around on some links about Wabi-Sabi and because of my love for Chinese Tea I decided to read this one. The tea ceremony's I have been involved in are certainly rich, simple, peaceful experiences, it has a similar effect as yoga on mind and body. I hope to drink several cups of various asian varieties of tea every day for the rest of my life.
I would recommend this short book to anyone interested in Asia, it's history and philosophy, and as well, it's tea. Especially the westerner. The author being Japanese but well versed in western thought (through his early command of the english language) offers a great rebuttal to the attitude of the west towards Asia, which I wish so bad us westerners could catch on to. That can be found especially in the beginning, but certainly throughout.
"They (the tea-masters) have given emphasis to our natural love of simplicity, and shown us the beauty of humility."
Some more quotes:
"There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea which makes it irresistible and capable of idealization."
"Lotung, a Tang poet, wrote: “The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration,— all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals. The seventh cup— ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of cool wind that rises in my sleeves." --- Surprisingly, the tea after drinking a couple cups has these effects! It's way different than the caffeine high from coffee as well. It's a much more hydrated, non-jittery feeling. The author describes the tea ceremony as being derived from the practice of Buddhist monks drinking tea before their altars. It can easily be a spiritual, life-giving experience.
“If people of inferior intelligence hear of the Tao, they laugh immensely. It would not be the Tao unless they laughed at it.”
"Hide yourself under a bushel quickly, for if your real usefulness were known to the world you would soon be knocked down to the highest bidder by the public auctioneer. Why do men and women like to advertise themselves so much? Is it not but an instinct derived from the days of slavery?"
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