Okakura and the Spirit of Tea

Okakura_Tenshin

We’re getting a bit contemplative this time of year here at Talking Tea, as the weather turns cooler and our bodies and minds begin to turn inward. So this December we’re offering two episodes exploring the spirit of tea as reflected in chado, the Japanese way of tea. To kick off this two-part series we’re looking at the life, work and influence of Kakuzo Okakura (pictured above), best known for his modern classic The Book of Tea. 

As some of you may know, Talking Tea host Ken Cohen narrated and produced an audiobook edition of Okakura’s The Book of Tea in 2015. Today Ken is chatting via Skype with Bruce Richardson, of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas and its publishing arm Benjamin Press. Bruce wrote and published an extensive and scholarly intro to the print version of The Book of Tea, and Bruce shares a bit of his own tea journey with us and tells us how he was first drawn to this text. We discuss Okakura’s early life in Japan and his exposure to the West, the origins of The Book of Tea and its connection with Okakura’s work at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Okakura’s influence on iconic American art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner, American artist Georgia O’Keefe and the design principles of Frank Lloyd Wright. Bruce chats with Ken about Okakura’s perspectives on the connections between tea, art, and Zen, and Bruce shares his own perspectives, influenced by Okakura, on tea as an adventure and a creative path, on the importance of the space within and why the way of tea is the way of life. 

Bruce Richardson’s illustrated print edition of The Book of Tea, with his introduction, is available through Elmwood Inn Fine Teas or though Amazon.

Ken Cohen’s audiobook edition of The Book of Tea, published by Spoken Realms, is available at Audible.com , Amazon and iTunes.

  

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @kensvoiceken.   

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The views and opinions expressed by guests on Talking Tea are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Talking Tea or its staff.

This podcast features music from “Japanese Flowers” (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

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