Over the Teacups

Giving Voice to the Tea Industry

The One Taste of Truth: Zen and the Art of Drinking Tea

Posted on | October 30, 2012 | Comments

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The One Truth: Zen and the Art of Drinking TeaWilliam Scott Wilson – Book Review

Renowned translator, William Scott Wilson, shares his expertise and obvious love of tea in such a way that is at once captivating.

Usually, I steer clear of anything that might be on the woo-woo side and from the title I assumed readers would be proselytized by The Way.  Not so.  Mr. Wilson’s book is incredible and I recommend a pre-order so that you have a copy in your tea library as quickly as it is released.

I love (and think you will, too) that he strips away the vanity from tea service and concentrates on the simplicity of all things tea which immediately raises the topic from simplicity to sublime.  As he translates from common Chinese and Zen philosophy “found in Asia and printed on scrolls hanging scrolls in tea rooms, restaurant alcoves, family rooms, and martial arts dojos”, the reader is transported to another time and place.

Timeless Tea Readings

The tea quotes are timeless and are as applicable to modern tea times as well as was true in ancient days. Other philosopher’s comments are tucked in such as:

“Henry David Thoreau said that a man is rich according to the number of things he can do without; and Socrates, visiting the Athenian market for the first time, looked around wide-eyed, stretched out his arms, and said, “Who would have thought that there were so many things I don’t need.”

It gives an all-new perspective to shopping at the mall!

As with a hand-crafted tea bowl, we are perfectly imperfect

From page 92, “In the scenery of spring there is no high or low; the flowering branches are of themselves, some short, some long.” P’u teng tu

This is the perfect poetic rendering of ….., the of-itself-so, or, more prosaically, the spontaneous and self-creating. ….. The phrase is evocative of the asymmetry in nature that is so highly valued in the construction of the tea room, and in the shapes of some of the most highly valued tea bowls.  Such bowls remind us of the ‘flaws’ in our own character, proof that we are perfectly imperfect, each of us having our own unique place in the universe.”

In the next few days, I’ll post a few more quotes from Mr. Wilson’s book.  In the meantime while we’re waiting for the book’s release in January 2013, you may preorder at Amazon and share your thoughts with me?



About the Author

Jennifer Petersen is a tea enthusiast, Certified Tea Professional, teaches various aspects about tea as a business, and a marketing consultant to the beverage industry. Always fascinated by other people who love tea, she is a life-long student and admirer of those who choose tea as a lifestyle.