Besides enjoying 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 freedom and open-endedness, and both 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 favorite teas. This is where my friend, Kerong Chok (pictured in the photo above), stepped in to help. 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 it 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 Souchong + Art Tatum’s “Yesterdays”
Lapsang Souchong’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!

Thanks to Jonathan Wong for the photo of Kerong Chok.

This article was originally posted to TChing in November of 2012.