Monday, 16 January 2012

Music and Tea

The pairing of music with the preparation and consumption of tea seems to be fairly commonplace, but not too often  discussed among drinkers of tea. I think this is perhaps simply because of variation in individual musical tastes, but surely these tastes merit as much discussion as preferences for styles of teaware or genres of tea? Background music seems to be everywhere nowadays, whether it's coming from a myriad of speakers in a department store, or from two tiny ones nestled in your ears during your morning run; this omnipresence suggests to me that any music accompanying tea (or the necessarily deliberate lack thereof) becomes a de-facto mood-setter for the session. Today I'm breaking the silence about music and giving it the pride of place it deserves as part of my experience with tea!

The choice of a beautiful set of antique teacups or the clean, simple lines of an unadorned and expertly crafted yixing teapot are something any tea-drunkard like me will have some level of appreciation for, but unless you happen to have heaps of money to acquire a range of them (which I don't), it's difficult to use such elements to incorporate much-needed variety into your tea drinking routine. A good friend of mine known to some as Biblical Jon is a master of the art of using small details to ensure that no two sessions are quite alike, even if they involve the same tea made in the same teapot and poured into the same cups. He also happens to have fantastic taste in music. Whenever he hosts tea, he reliably pulls out his phone and starts playing whatever strikes his fancy, instantly setting the tone and creating a calm atmosphere as he goes about the process making tea.


As much as I feel music is an integral part of a tea session and not to be ignored, I also don't think it should be taken too seriously. I don't concern myself with sticking to music with shared origins to my tea, though from time to time I do find myself wanting to listen to Krishna Das alongside a cup of tea (it's the right sub-continent, at least). So long as the music enhances the overall experience, it's done its job in my book, whether it may be Alexi Murdoch, Mogwai, traditional Nankuan music, or Nine Inch Nails. Sometimes you just have to throw things at the wall and see what sticks, and that, for me, is what tea is all about.

With that in mind, I'd like to hear from anyone reading this blog about what you listen to when you drink tea, or if indeed you listen to anything at all. What do you think the choice of auditory ambience brings to the experience? Is it something you find worth paying attention to, or is music just a distraction from the tea itself? Please comment and let me know.


  1. Both tea and music have the ability to transport our minds in time or space. So, they are good fits for one another, provided that their mood match.
    The tea brewer is like a music player: he must know his instruments (accessories) and tea (partition) well. Focused, with a clear mind, he tries to achieve a clear, pure tea (like we expect clear and bright notes).

  2. Hi,

    In general I don't hear music when I drink tea. But sometime I hear simply music : Huang Jiang Qin.