While I may be the tea expert in my small circle of family and friends, I am repeatedly humbled by those out there whose knowledge vastly surpasses my own. I know what I like, and a little bit about the industry, but feel that there is always so much more that I still need to learn to truly consider myself an expert.
I feel quite deficient in my knowledge of Asian tea culture, all the more shameful since the East is the cradle of tea. I’m very slowly working to remedy this failing.
Awhile ago, my mother gave me a 1962 edition of A.L. Sadler’s Cha-No-Yu: The Japanese Tea Ceremony. I had read a history of the Japanese tea ceremony for an aesthetics class, watched a YouTube video here and there, and witnessed a ceremony performed by students in a Japanese immersion program. None of this compared to the knowledge contained in this volume.
The original edition appeared in 1933, and new editions are still being printed, a testimony to the quality of information contained in this book. The first half of the book is dedicated to the components of the tea ceremony, down to the smallest details. Diagrams indicate the proper way to not only set up the hearth, but to sweep it. Every detail of both the garden outside the tea house and the interior of the tea house are considered and illustrated. Sadler even provides illustrations for proper flower arrangements for the tea ceremony.
The second portion of the book is dedicated to histories of famous tea masters, their ceremonies, and their teachings. The book also includes a genealogy of the tea masters and their students. For those who care to take things to the next level, there is a list of proper names for tea-rooms, a programme, and menus for ceremonies.
I have to admit, I have not done more than skim this book as it will require a great deal of concentration for me to absorb and keep track of all the Japanese words and names, but it is quite a worthy undertaking.
You can find more great articles on Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop!
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