Musical evolution was in the air at the end of the '60s, as groups adapted to survive in an ever-changing rock landscape. Such was the case with After Tea, who shed the colourful petals of their flower-pop past to re-emerge as a solid progressive blues rock outfit with their outstanding 1970 album, 'Joint House Blues'.
With the release of her 1993 Blue Note debut Cruisin', pianist Junko Onishi arrived as one of the most promising of Japan-born jazz musicians. Growing up in Tokyo, Onishi received classical piano lessons but became quite interested in jazz. She studied at Berklee and after three years moved to New York. Already a well-developed player, Onishi worked with Joe Henderson, Betty Carter, Kenny Garrett, and Mingus Dynasty before recording her debut as a leader. She considers her style to be based on Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Ornette Coleman; her other recordings from the '90s include 1994's Live at the Village Vanguard, 1995's Piano Quintet Suite, and 1999's Fragile. After Fragile, Onishi took a break from releasing albums to focus on developing her music. She returned over ten years later with 2009's Musical Moments. She followed that up a year later with her 2010 Verve debut, Baroque, which featured several Onishi originals as well as interpretations of some 20th century classical pieces. Tea Times is her new album, recorded and released in 2016 on Japanese Village Records label.
After water, tea is the second most popular drink in the world. It has been around as a drink for 5000 years, and 6 billion pounds of tea are harvested annually. We begin with a trip to the Lipton's plant in Suffolk, VA., where state of the art machines crank out 24 million teabags a day, and then its off to the only tea plantation in the US, the 127 acre Charleston Plantation in South Carolina. We'll follow the flow of tea from England to the Colonies, where a tea tax precipitated the Boston Tea Party, and chronicle the brief but glorious age of the Clipper Ships, speed craft that brought tea from China to London in less than 100 days. Big news in the 20th century for the tea trade includes the emergence of herbal, powdered, iced and decaf teas. Tour the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder Colorado, and then visit a boutique tea garden where expensive teas sell for upwards of $30 a pot. Is it true that the best Darjeelings can bring in hundreds of dollars an ounce?