Tea Book Reviews

M.Pitelka ‘Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History and Practice’

Making tea, making Japan

Japanese tea has had a long history and deep traditions. In the recent years it has gained many fans from all over the world. So no doubt, that at some point it would have had to tickle the curiosity of the academic layers. In the book ‘Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History and Practice’ Morgan Pitelka, a professor in Asian studies, has gathered some of the brightest minds intrigued by Japanese tea culture.

The book does not have a strict structure and each chapter comes independent from the rest. As the title says, they all focus on Japanese tea culture, but cover it from different angles. In this book you will find several historical analyses of the tea ceremony formation both in the elite merchant times and warrior times. It also offers a deeper look into several less known historical tea personalities, such as Imai Sokyuu (the predecessor of Sen no Rikyu), Sen Koushin Sousa (founder of Omotasenkei tea ceremony school) and others. The book also explores the culture of both Matcha and Sencha. Some more unique, and perhaps more surprising, chapters provide historic accounts of Japanese teaware, explore the meaning and practice of record taking in tea ceremony, as well as analyse films based on tea related historic events and personalities.

All in all this book is a unique collection of writings on Japanese tea culture. While the structure is dispersed and writing styles differ from one writer to another, it provides some unique insights into previously little explored topics. It also reassesses some popularly held believes about Japanese tea culture; and may be more useful to those with prior experience of Japanese tea.

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