Besides tea, I also enjoy listening to jazz. Given that fancy hotel tearooms seem to pipe in a lot of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, there must be something about the tea and jazz combination that works.
For me, tea and jazz share many common traits – both take you on unexpected journeys, both thrive on that sense of freedom and open-endedness, and yet both good jazz and good tea are derived from much dedication, hard work and passion.
Given that my tea drinking has become more serious in recent years, I decided that I needed a well-curated jazz soundtrack to go with my favourite teas. This is where my friend, Kerong Chok (see above), came to help me in this. He is an amazing jazz musician who took my tea-jazz pairing request very seriously. Here is his list of suggested jazz tracks that I’m absolutely stoked to share with you all:
Silver Needle + Ahmad Jamal Trio’s “Darn that Dream”
The trio swings gently but it is a powerful performance – just like white tea, which may taste light but leaves a lasting impression.
Gyokuro Pearl Dew + Erroll Garner’s “Where or When”
The fresh, grassy intensity of the Gyokuro pairs perfectly with Erroll Garner’s brilliant piano playing, which always commands immediate attention.
Iron Goddess of Mercy + Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby”
The depth of this classic oolong makes the ideal companion with the bittersweet intensity of Bill Evans’ playing.
Darjeeling Black Tea + Fred Hersch’s “So In Love”
Like the delicate sweetness of Darjeeling, Fred Hersch is able to get beautiful, subtle tones out of any piano he plays.
Lapsang Soucong + Art Tatum’s “Yesterdays”
Lapsang Soucong’s rich smokiness meets its match with jazz piano heavyweight Art Tatum who effortlessly executes dense harmonies.
What do you think of these pairings? Do you have your own tea-jazz pairings to suggest? I would love to hear about your experiences and suggestions in the comment box!
This article has also been published in T Ching.