Book Review: The Way Of Tea

Poll a bunch of coffee drinkers about why they consume said beverage and you probably wont get many responses that remark upon the relaxing and contemplative feeling derived from drinking a cup of coffee. Coffee drinking, as a general rule, is about the buzz.

Some people drink tea for the same reason. After all, it contains sufficient amounts of caffeine to get you pumped. But for many tea drinking is about the relaxing and contemplative feeling this beverage can impart, not to mention the ritualistic aspects of preparing and serving tea. There is likely a sound chemical basis for the idea that tea relaxes you, in spite of the caffeine, but this is not the time and place to go there.

If you’re looking for a book that examines tea’s spiritual nature, you’d do well to start with Aaron Fisher’s The Way Of Tea. It joins such works as Frank Hadley Murphy’s The Spirit of Tea in taking a less nuts and bolts look at the subject of tea drinking and culture.

As Fisher himself writes, in the Introduction, “I write not to add to a growing list of scholarly facts on tea. I instead want to approach my reflections on tea — its history, development and preparation over time — from an intuitive perspective; that is, to inspire the heart not the mind.”

And so he does, in a relatively slim volume whose 12 chapters address such notions as The Tao of Tea, Quietude, Clarity and The Tea Space. Not surprisingly, given tea’s origins in Asia and the fact that it retains a firm foothold there to this day, much of what Fisher imparts here on tea overlaps with Taoism, Buddhism and various other schools of thought that developed in the East.

A tea scholar who has spent time in India, China and Japan and who now lives in Taiwan, Fisher is a principal in the excellent online tea magazine The Leaf, among other things. This, his latest effort, is a reminder that, as the publisher puts it, “You don’t need a mountainside hut or hours for endless contemplation; just a few quiet moments with a steaming cup of your favorite tea.”

Here, here.

Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

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