On Tea

I am currently reading Kusamakura, by Natsume Soseki, for Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge. It’s an enjoyable read, an unusual and beautifully written book, with not a lot of plot but an abundance of description for thought. There are passages in it that paint beautiful pictures in my mind (the main character is an artist and a poet), and there are parts that make me laugh as the author has fun with us. While drinking tea, the main character had these thoughts:

A connoisseur with time on his hands will elegantly taste this rich, delicately sweet liquid, ripened in the precise temperature of the hot water, by letting it run one drop at a time onto the tip of the tongue. Most people believe that tea is to be drunk, but that is a mistake. If you drop it gently onto the tongue and let the pure liquid dissipate in your mouth, almost none of it remains for you to swallow. Rather, the exquisite fragrance travels down to permeate the regions of the stomach.

And then, a few lines later, he says:

Tea is, in fact, a marvelous drink. To those who spurn it on the grounds of insomnia, I say that it’s better to be deprived of sleep than of tea.

8 thoughts on “On Tea

  1. Chris

    Hehe…I LOVE that last line that you posted. I had some tea last night that kept me up and I even thought to myself…”it was worth it…”


  2. Robin Post author

    Hi Tony, thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I followed your link and enjoyed reading your post about this book. And I’ll definitely be back to read more of your reviews!

    Chris, tea will keep me up, too, but I agree that there are those times when it’s “worth it!”

    Kelly, I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but I’m enjoying it.


  3. Bellezza

    I don’t know if I could drink tea that slowly, drop by drop, but it is something lovely to be savoured. And, I like so many kinds! Orange pekoe, green, jasmine, even chair when the Indian mothers of children in my class make it for me. I love how the Japanese novels can create such a mood from their description, which in other genres bores me.


  4. Les in NE

    Lovely description! I enjoy tea, but rarely drink it in the summer. Odd, since I still enjoy my 2-3 cups of coffee every morning, no matter how hot & humid the weather might be.


  5. Robin Post author

    Meredith, the moods he creates in this novel are beautiful — his descriptions like impressionistic paintings. And then he throws in his unexpected humor and makes me laugh. A very enjoyable read.

    Les, I love tea at certain times, especially if someone prepares it for me! Otherwise, my mainstay is my morning coffee, same as you.


  6. parrish lantern

    great description, based on your appreciation of this book & its language, I’m guessing you may enjoy Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s – In Praise of Shadows



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