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A cup of tea with a side of culture: Global Tea Series returns to New West

Listen to a Chinese guzheng concert while having Chinese tea at the Global Tea Series
Global Tea Series, a new live concert series, aims to bridge cultures through music and tea

Forget scones and sandwiches, drink up tea with a side of music, this Sunday. 

Global Tea Series, a free concert series featuring top musicians and aromatic teas from different cultures, is back for its fourth year in New West. 

The event is curated by New West musician Cassius Khan, a recognized master of the Indian percussion instrument tabla, and features a lineup of Chinese, Afghan and Iranian artists.

The free concerts are aimed to bridge cultures through music and food, as per Khan. 

The series will kick off with a performance by Chinese guzheng artist Sarah Yusha Tan on March 26, and will be complemented with Chinese tea and snacks. 

An upcoming performance by Afghan classical musician Majid Qiyan on April 23 will feature Afghan tea (the Ceylon tea Do Ghazal that’s popular in the country) and cookies, while the May 28 event will feature Iranian classical musician Peyman Roughnandeh, and Iranian black tea and baklavas. 

The tea and music mash-up was conceived by Khan in 2018 as an annual event, but had to be paused during COVID. Though it saw a mini revival in 2022, this year it’s back in full swing.

Promoting global music

Along with his wife and kathak dancer Amika Kushwaha, Khan has been organizing the Mushtari Begum Festival to celebrate Indian classical music and dance, for 11 years now; with Global Tea Series, he aims to build a platform for global music in New West. 

“I feature artists who are kind of under the radar in the Canadian music scene — mostly musicians who have different musical cultures and styles, which have nothing to do with the western genre,” said Khan. 

“I feature musicians that I believe should get a platform.” 

At the end of the three-part series, the audience will not just come out knowing what a Chinese zither, an Afghan rabab or an Iranian setar sounds like, but also a whole lot more about some of the ancient cultures in the world. 

The stage will be open to the audience to ask questions specific to the artist, their culture or the instrument they use — all while still having their hands wrapped around a hot cuppa.

“I feel very happy that the Massey Theatre and Eighth and Eight Creative Spaces look out on this vision that musicians from different global cultures should be recognized and highlighted,” said Khan. 

“This is how we grow the music community and create an awareness to the mainstream audience here who normally would listen to western artists and western music…and give them a taste of what kind of cultural musical styles and cuisines are out there”

Attend Global Tea Series free concert at Eighth and Eight Creative Spaces (at the Massey Theatre complex, 735 Eighth Ave.) on Sunday, March 26, at 3 p.m. The event is free for all.