This pan-Asian travelogue features musicians from China, India, Tatarstan, Indonesia, Japan, Turkey, and Iran. Aside from the unifying theme of the 400-hundred-year-old tea trade, the tunes have little in common and range from modern fusions to intriguing glimpses of rarely heard traditions. Assorted strings dominate the instrumental forces, especially harplike sounds, but the vocals are equally strong. Among the most fascinating tracks are Zulya’s beguiling recollections of her Tatar childhood, Oki’s tribute to his endangered Ainu (Japanese aboriginal) heritage, the Anatolian Turkish saz (lute) stylings of Okan Murat Ozturk, and an arrestingly percussive example of Iran’s classical Persian disciplines as performed by Kamil Alipour. The set offers an array of unexpected pleasures from cultures that deserve to be better documented in the West. It is as mellow yet invigorating as the perfect tea break. A recipe for chai, a spicy Indian milk tea, is included. –Christina Roden1. Saginou – Zulya (Tatarstan)2. Picking Flowers – Lei Qiang (China)3. Hangama Hai Kyon Barpa – Ghulam Ali (Pakistan)4. For Julia – Sanjay Mishra (India)5. Utuwaskarap – Oki (Japan)6. Gerizler Basi – Okan Murat Ozturk (Turkey)7. Afshari – Kamil Alipour (Iran)8. Anggopanku – Hila Hambala (Indonesia)9. Empress, The – Ancient Future (China/USA)10. Kang Mandor – Ujang Suryana (Indonesia)

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