You may like tea and may even drink it every day. But have you ever wondered what it is to live with and surrounded by tea? Soshitsu Sen XV Iemoto – a.k.a. the grand tea master – of Urasenke school, shares his thoughts about the tea life in his book ‘Tea Life, Tea Mind’. Born into a tea family, he started the tea training with his father (Urasenke Iemoto at that time) at the age of 6 and has spent his whole life with tea, a significant part of which was travelling and teaching about Japanese tea abroad.
Soshitsu Sen XV’s book, that includes snippets of personal experiences, talks about the philosophy and the meaning of tea. Nowadays Japanese tea ceremony is mostly seen as a form of art, but for Soshitsu Sen XV tea has a deeper meaning. The book starts with the interpretation of key tea virtues introduced by Sen no Rikyu: harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity. Here tea is shown as a medium to tranquillity and calmness. For Soshitsu Sen XV tea is a way of life that extends beyond the practice in a tea room. And even the practice of tea is not about learning the routines perfectly, but about becoming able to respond to the unexpected with composure and grace. According to Soshitsu Sen XV while information learned by memorizing is temporary, lessons learned through the body will last forever.
The book is written in a quiet even poetic style and radiates calmness and tranquillity. While light and easy to follow, it provides some interesting interpretations of key aspects of tea, such as its 4 virtues or 7 rules by Sen no Rikyu. This book is a wonderful read, that shares a unique insider’s look into the tea world.