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For someone who wants to learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura is essential reading. This book may be over a century old, but it is just as fascinating and beautiful today as it was when it was first written.
The thing that makes The Book of Tea special is that it is not a classic dry instruction manual. This lovely little volume gives us a look at the old Japan in a style that is every bit as lyrical as one of Shakespeare's plays. As you read about the different tea rituals, you'll learn much more than how to brew and pour your tea. You'll also learn why tea ceremonies have such a special place in Japanese culture and you'll learn that simplicity can actually be an extremely beautiful and complicated thing.
Because this book was written during a time of drastic changes in Japan, it is sure to fascinate people who aren't interested in tea, as well. Coax the history lover in your family to pick up this little treasure and he or she will probably enjoy it every bit as much as you did because the book allows anyone who reads it to experience a bit of the old Japan through the eyes of a gifted writer.