A Bowl for a Coin: A Commodity History of Japanese Tea (Book Review)

a bowl for a coin

This book written by William Wayne Farris is about 4 years old.

It’s quite recent.

While most books about tea include the history of Japanese tea in one way or another, this one does a superior job, in my opinion.

It’s divided into four chapters that are organized by time periods: 750 – 1300, 1300 – 1600, 1600 – 1868, and modern times.

The book shows how tea started as a gift item, and then it slowly became a taxable commodity.

One thing that stands out is that the tea ceremony doesn’t play a prominent role in this book.

While it is mentioned, the emphasis is on Japanese tea as a whole.

The book states that the commodity had to be there before tea could become an art form.

Other types of Japanese tea besides matcha are discussed, for the same reason.

The author is very interested in the economics of tea and how it has changed throughout history.


For example, how Uji became the most important regional brand.

So you’ll find a lot of data regarding Japanese tea production, consumption during the different periods, exports, etc.

I thought that I knew a lot about Japanese tea history, but I kept learning new things thanks to this book.

At times the book seemed a little dense. However, I think that it was worth reading

Here’s the link in Amazon.

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