|Book of Tea, Edinburgh edition 1917|
Both books still are considered classics, but one eventually attained cult status as it influenced the worlds of art and tea alike.
Working alongside his teachers at Tokyo University, all imported from Harvard and other New England schools, Okakura helped save countless Japanese artistic treasures (now housed in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts) from being tossed aside in favor of modern Western aesthetics.
By 1904, Okakura had made his way to Boston, where he became the Director of Asian Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts and the favorite companion of Back Bay society’s grande dame, Isabella Stewart Gardner. Thus positioned as a man with one foot in the East and one foot in the West, he deemed tea the perfect metaphor for interpreting the Japanese art spirit to a Boston culture thirsty for a counterpoint to America’s headlong rush into materialism and wealth.
Okakura’s Book of Tea was first published in 1906 and has never been out of print. The work had a tremendous influence on Frank Lloyd Wright and Georgia O’Keeffe and is considered one of the most influential books ever written for those looking to infuse teaism into their daily lives.
|All About Tea by William Ukers|
Ukers, who had authored a similar book on coffee, served as editor and publisher of The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal. He spent twenty-five years collecting material and visiting the tea-growing regions of Asia before delving into research work in the principal libraries, museums, and laboratories of America and Europe. The research did not end, he says, “Until the final proofs were read in 1935.”
Text from A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew & Bruce Richardson. Benjamin Press 2013.