I may not write about tea as much as I do coffee and wine, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less.
If anything, I’ve found my love for tea blossoming even more now that I’m extra cooped up and going through the predictable side-effects of concentration issues and insomnia. Boba tea is sorely missed (fare thee well, local boba shop) and my mother recently got me a superberry flower tea for my birthday. It’s forever been a part of my life, which got me to considering a playlist that reflects it. Tea is delicious and soothing, yes…and like coffee, it’s yet another outlet with which to express ourselves.
The noun alone conjures up images of serenity and relaxation. Chilly evenings and long summer days. Sweet tea, anyone?
You see these instinctual reactions to tea reflected in all kinds of songwriting. Chamomile tea is used to invoke tenderness or sleepiness. Chai tea can be sultry or heartfelt, especially when mixed with other romantic ingredients like milk, sugar and honey. Tea in general is a fleeting moment of peace, an anchor warming your palms or cooling you off before the outside world floods in again. It can be so many incredible things and I want to share what I’ve heard.
I explored five songs about coffee a few weeks back and how this drink was interpreted through metaphor. Here are five songs that are either about tea or reference tea meaningfully:
“Chai Tea Latte” by Angel Taylor
I’m going to start the list off with an artist I’d never encountered before.
The music industry is notoriously unforgiving to new artists. I don’t even have to specify any genre or hemisphere when I say that, either, because mainstream media has always been about the now. Popular now, trending now, long-lasting-impact-on-our-psyche-now (somehow). From what I’m seeing, Angel Taylor is a smaller artist working in the very competitive piano-pop space. From this song alone? She deserves way more attention.
This is a heartwarming, raw ballad dedicated to the art of fixing missed opportunities. A song that makes you sit up and pay attention to all the regret you’ve tried to forget about, using chai tea lattes as a catalyst for starting over. Have you ever cut ties with someone that might’ve deserved that second chance? How about being too afraid to take the plunge in the first place? Give this song a listen and think about how you could make your own year just a little more fulfilling.
on a date
to get some chai tea lattes
you open the door for me always
you’re such a gentlemen like that
and I don’t know anyone who has a sweeter heart than you do
“sugar honey ice and tea” by bring me the horizon
Need to headbang a little more? You’re in good hands with bring me the horizon.
(also, that’s not a typo, they write everything in lowercase)
This is one of the most eclectic and dynamic groups I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The energy, the melodies! They’ll switch from moody synth to an emo screamo that makes me feel like a teenager again, all without missing a single scratchy beat. This song is a riproaring indie rock number, swinging in with a thunderous hook that makes you want to shake your hair out. Much like the Gorillaz, anything this group touches turns to gold, easy categorization be damned.
The lyrics stress living in the moment, using tea (and all the supplementary ingredients) to represent embracing the small picture over a looming, unpredictable future. Now that’s a 2020 mood.
it’s all messed up, only one thing I know for sure
we’re so full of
sugar, honey, ice, and tea
sugar, honey, ice, and tea
everybody’s full of sugar, honey, ice, and tea
“tea” by emawk
It’s time to gush about another artist whose work I can’t get enough of. Shout-out to the indie music channel Majestic Casual, who first introduced me to his work with his single “18“.
I’m endlessly impressed with artists who can bottle up emotions as surely as they’ve invented them. emawk (again, not a typo) is a connoisseur of nostalgia. Every song is a wistful showstopper of the most low-key kind, pulling you in with a characteristically intriguing intro and only getting better from there. Here he sings about making a loved one a cup of tea to comfort them during a hard day, reflecting on the pain they’re going through. This resonates with me big time, because making a hot drink is one of my love languages.
If you like this song, I beg you to listen to “Later“. It’s my absolute favorite by him — with stunning production value — and a showcase of the ‘real music’ that so many YouTube commenters like to claim isn’t being made anymore.
for all the ones you depend on
for all the ones who depend on you, depend on you
and all the pressure you put on yourself as a result of it
i made you a cup of tea
tea for days, tea for them long days
“Sweet Hibiscus Tea” by Penelope Scott
Less is more. This perky piano-pop song sounds like it was recorded on the first take in someone’s bedroom…and it’s fantastic.
The top 40 radio station these days overly prioritizes songs with excessive polish and not enough personality, with increasingly rare exception. This song is a blunt, scratchy study of the minute details that make up our everyday lives. The background elements we’re all aware of, all the time, yet still pass us by in the blur of our daily obligations. The temperature of the day, the clutter building up in our house, the relationships we wish were a little more stable.
This song uses tea as just one of the many, many colors in a too-colorful life, where peace is needed and not often received.
there’s lukewarm herbal mango sweet hibiscus tea
on the hot garbage pile in which I fucking sleep
the walls are empty, it’s so ugly
i could burn the whole place down
it wouldn’t catch ’cause all the posters are on their way to my hometown
“Green Tea & Honey” by DaneAmar
This is the perfect song to wrap up the list with: like emawk‘s “tea“, this number celebrates the comfort of a good cup and how it’s used as a soothing ritual in our day-to-day lives.
This plucky, easygoing acoustic-R&B piece uses green tea (with a dollop of honey, of course) as a metaphor for what the singer wants out of a relationship. How he wants a special someone to be part of his morning ritual and his life as a whole. It’s cute, snappy and almost tooth-rottingly sweet. Another singer comes in to harmonize near the end, really cementing the feel of a loving relationship being worked on by both parties.
I’m a pretty devoted curmudgeon, but even I’m helpless to resist the charm DaneAmar‘s herbal love letter.
green tea in the morning
be my, my sugar honey
you’re just so great
i wonder, girl
i wonder why you love me