November 17, 2014

The Book of Tea (Book Review)

"The kettle sings well, for pieces of iron are so arranged in the bottom as to produce a peculiar melody in which one may hear the echoes of a cataract muffled by clouds, of a distant sea breaking among the rocks , a rainstorm sweeping through a bamboo forest, or of the soughing of pines on some farway hill " -The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura.

It is hard to write a review for a book that took more than 6 months to read. Take note it is not a long book but rather each word is almost a page on its own. This explains the length of time it took me to read.
Maybe I am a slow reader, but the book holds sophistication within its simplicity.
Some parts, I had to research them and check about a historical, or cultural story so I can feel more connected with the writer. I think the writer has such a strength in his words and stories that you can feel the flow of knowledge transferring to you without him using the technique of reprimanding. Without the Dos and Don'ts....
Philosophical book in all of the word's terms, away from the religious part.
The book dates back to 1906. Even though it was written in a old time, the writer criticises his time of being disregarding some ancient rituals.
It talks about the culture of tea, "The Teasim".

You will throughly get exposed on the techniques, habits, hospitality of the invitee and the rituals involved in the act of preparing and serving tea...
Yet, this is just one chapter...the rest of the book relates Teasim to the culture of Japan from a zen and taosim perspective.
It relates teasim to art, flowers, home living, and even design. All activities are intertwined. Drinking tea is not a void ritual, it is a whole culture.

Tea served at a Japanese Restaurant, Kampai

Through this book, you will get to know how something so simple (tea drinking) needs such complex harmony.
The book teaches you the art of appreciating simple things, the art of looking into the future without forgetting the past.
The book makes you wonder about our lives today; how unharmonious they are, and how complicated for no reason.
We don't have any true appreciation of food, eating , drinking, flowers and arts. We dont have a full attention to the small, yet important aspects of our lives.

Everything is taken for granted. Everything we do is disrupted. We have indeed lost focus.
The environment we live in, is not harmonious with what we are doing.
For example, we eat but we are disrupted by the radio,  the tv, the phone calls,  and whatsapp messages...
Even our house decor is somehow done in a way that distracts us from the main object of the room, and the main reason we are living in a house.

Exquisite Tea Set from Centria  Mall 
The book is full of ironies and surprising , yet believable examples. For instance, I quote the writer:
"He is a doctor, thus you will instinctively hate him, for you know a doctor always seeks to prolong the trouble of his victims..."

The Book of tee might be an old and forgotten book, but it is a good reminder for us in this age to cherish traditions and ironically take the simple things in an utter sophistication....

I think if you read the book, you will have your own review and thoughts about it cause you will dispose your own reality and consciousness ...

But I do recommend reading it for entertaining, philosophical, and cultural reasons. You wont waste your time in it since it is indeed something eccentric.

Tea Set from Maison BOM Riyadh