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The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
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The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

i. The Cup of Humanity

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the
eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite
amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a
religion of aestheticism--Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the
adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday
existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual
charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a
worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish
something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.

The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary
acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and
religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is
hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows
comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is
moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion
to the universe. It represents the true spirit of Eastern democracy
by making all its votaries aristocrats in taste.

The long isolation of Japan from the rest of the world, so conducive
to introspection, has been highly favourable to the development of
Teaism. Our home and habits, costume and cuisine, porcelain,