Tea and jazz at The Peace Hotel

8 Nov

Another special thing we did when my mom was in town was treat her to afternoon tea at The Peace Hotel.  When Li and I celebrated my birthday, we had slipped inside the lobby and happened to notice that every Sunday they have a special jazz tea with musicians who had played in Shanghai prior to the Communists taking over.  All of the musicians are in their 70s and 80s now so it seemed like a limited opportunity.


We booked a table and my mom’s final Sunday in town we dressed up and headed out for lovely afternoon tea.


It was a set menu – the only choice to make was what type of tea to enjoy.  There were all of the English classics – tea sandwiches, sweet cakes, milky tea and of course – scones!  The scones were my favorite – they came to the table warm with clotted cream and lovely jam.

My favorite - the scones!

My favorite – the scones!

The jazz took us all a bit by surprise.  I think we were expecting jazz more from the 50s and 60s – but instead it was more Big Band music.  They played When the Saints Go Marching In and other classics from the 20s and 30s – more Depression Era Jazz.  Mom commented that it would have been the music that her father grew up with.  Thinking about it after the fact though – that made a lot of sense.  When jazz was evolving, these gentlemen were not playing music in China.  They had other things to worry about.


The musicians - still going strong.  They played for nearly an hour without a break.

The musicians – still going strong. They played for nearly an hour without a break.

Given the age of the musicians, I don’t know how long this afternoon tea will last, but it was globalization at it’s best – English tea and American jazz in Shanghai, China.

Where have you had your most interesting mix of cultures?  How does music influence that?  I remember when I first moved to Shanghai my students assumed that I knew every song in English – because it was in English and I was a native speaker.  Have you ever had that happen?

15 Responses to “Tea and jazz at The Peace Hotel”

  1. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary November 8, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Shanghai and everything on the tray looks absolutely delicious!! I bet your mom enjoyed the mixture of afternoon tea and jazz! 🙂

    • gkm2011 November 9, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      We all enjoyed it – once we got over the definition of jazz! Something special in Shanghai that won’t be there forever.

  2. Every Day Adventures in Asia November 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    How fab! Darn it – now I’m hungry for fresh hot scones and clotted cream!!! 🙂

    Love the slice of Chinese jazz history…. I’ll never forget seeing Dave Brubeck live in Winnipeg years ago. These guys were all in their 70s – 90s and rocked the concert hall with such energy and joie de vivre for jazz. What a privilege.

    If I make it back to Shanghai anytime soon – this will definitely be a spot I’d like to check out!

    • gkm2011 November 9, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      I will definitely welcome you back! Sometimes the atmosphere of a place tells a better story than the food or music itself. There was an elderly man who brought his family and we watched him out of the corner of our eyes as he sang along to most of the songs. It made me wonder how he had spent the cultural revolution….

      • Every Day Adventures in Asia November 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

        Oh I’m sure there is a story there! The early jazz scene in Mumbai is also fascinating. A friend wrote a book on it “Taj Mahal Foxtrot” and Denz helped with the research – collected so many incredible photos and tales from the few remaining local legends. Denz produced one play “Jazz” inspired by it and still plans to produce a 2nd play about one story in particular one of these years.

  3. CrazyChineseFamily November 8, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    I have never experienced live music thus r far in China except when we visited the Tang Dynasty show in Xi’an. Is it possible that in China live music is not that common (yet)?

    • gkm2011 November 9, 2014 at 8:18 am #

      I would say it is definitely more common than 7 years ago and quality varies greatly. You really need to search it out – there is not the content I’d expect in a city of over 20 million for sure.

      • CrazyChineseFamily November 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

        I have seen some bands performing in the bar street of Xi’An when I passed by but somehow no one was interested in the bands but rather in the bars with normal music from the loudspeakers :p

      • gkm2011 November 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

        I think Shanghai is slightly ahead of some of the other cities in China, but live music still isn’t appreciated at the level I think it should be.

  4. ladyofthecakes November 8, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Scones! Clotted cream! Heaven 🙂

    • gkm2011 November 9, 2014 at 8:18 am #

      They were lovely and a bit of a surprise because they came at the end of the meal, but were hot and we gobbled them down!

  5. Marta November 8, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    I’ve been wanting to go for years!! I should hurry!!

    • gkm2011 November 9, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      Yes, put it on your list – those musicians won’t be there much longer!

  6. laowhynot November 9, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    That looks fantastic! I’ll have to try it sometime if I ever get to actually stay home in Shanghai for a weekend again!

    • gkm2011 November 9, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      Would highly recommend it! Make sure to book in advance.

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