Warning: If you’re prone to earbugs stop reading now because this post may plant a melody in your head that’ll lasts for days.
Undaunted? Read on.
I’m discontented with homes that I’ve rented
So I have invented my own.
Darling, this place is lovely oasis
Where life’s weary chase is unknown
Almost a hundred years ago, just after the largest stock market shakeup in US history, a pair of Broadway composers collaborated on a little tune about tea for a musical they were working on.
Far from the crowded city
Where flowers pretty caress the stream
Cozy to hide in, to live side by side in,
Don’t let it apart in my dream
Life was brutally hard. Folks lost their livelihoods, their savings, their homes. They packed in with relatives doing everything possible to get by on less.
A contagious melody with lyrics that paint an intimate vision of escape, this song caught fire and has since become one of the most recorded songs in history.
Picture me upon your knee
Just tea for two
And two for tea
Just me for you
And you for me alone
By now you’ve probably guessed that we’re talking about the iconic classic, “Tea For Two.” Everyone’s heard it, and to be honest for much life this song drove me nuts. But as I get on it resonates more and more.
Nobody near us to see us or hear us
No friends or relations
On weekend vacations
We won’t have it known
That we own a telephone, dear
The craving to escape with the one you love—to disconnect in order to connect—is needed as much now as it was then. And the power of tea to help bring people together, intimately, authentically, remains as potent as ever.
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There are countless recordings of the song with everyone from Doris Day to Thelonius Monk to Alvin and the Chipmunks making recordings. Dimitri Shostakovich even took a stab at it — on a bet. One autumn night in 1927 his friend, conductor Nikolai Malko, played the record for Shostakovich, then bet him 100 roubles to re-orchestrate the entire song — from memory — in an hour. Shostakovich accepted and with a genuis I can hardly imagine completed the task in 45 minutes.
I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite renditions.
How could Sinatra pass it up?
Tommy Dorsey’s big band take.
Renamed, “Skippy”, Thelonius monk turned it upside down and inside out.
And the ever irreverent Muppets perform “Tea for Two” with a twist — backwards.
But, listening will take you only so far. Why not call a friend and meet for tea in person at one of Samovar’s San Francisco Tea Lounges, Hayes Valley Tea Lounge, Castro Tea Lounge, Yerba Buena Gardens Tea Lounge, or grab a quick cup of tea at our Tea Bar in the Mission?
And don’t forget to keep your kitchen (or office) stocked with tea and teaware from our online tea shop.