Jugalbandi means “tied together”. The term has deep roots in Indian classical music and generally refers to a “call and response” type pattern in which two musicians literally go at it in an improvisational frenzy. The magic that happens in a jugalbandi is a lot like the collective improvisation that occurs in jazz.

In jugalbandhi, both musicians act as lead players, and a playful competition often ensues between the two performers.[Wikipedia]

I love jazz. And Indian classical music. And especially a fusion of the two. Enjoy this spectacular performance by some of my all-time favorite musicians – John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain.

John McLaughlin: Guitar
Zakir Hussain: Tabla
V Selvaganesh: Percussion
U Shrinivas: Mandolin

I know – you were looking for a tea angle on all of this. As if that amazing music wasn’t enough for you.

Well, I don’t want you to leave disappointed. So….

Here’s a “tea” interpretation from an Indian TV commercial featuring Assam and Darjeeling tea. No, I’m not getting paid for this (I wish I was) ! I thought it was a neat commercial. My mom is also a big fan of blending Assam and Darjeeling together – she says the Assam gives the tea strength and the Darjeeling gives it flavor.


16 Responses to “Jugalbandi”

  1. 1 Phyll

    Can you please advise on how to blend assam and darjeeling teas, such as in what ratio should they be blended at, etc.? Thanks…

  2. What? No comments on that amazing musical performance?

    Aaah Phyll…

    A great question, but unfortunately, there’s no correct answer (at least none that I am aware of).

    I’m going to let my previous career shine through on this one, and give you that classic consulting response…

    It depends.

    Actually it depends on many things – the flavor profile you are trying to achieve, the flavor profiles of the individual teas you have at your disposal, your tolerance for failure, and (if you’re a commercial blender), the taste preferences of your market.

    At any rate, our personal preference is not to mix Darjeelings and Assams (although my mom would disagree πŸ™‚ )

    But if you insist, let’s assume you had, say, a good quality Assam Orthodox and a Darjeeling Whole Leaf available. Try doing a 60% Darjeeling and a 40% Assam (that’s what the Goodricke tea in the commercial above has. I lied. Upon closer inspection of the ad, opposite is true). The Assam will give you a bright liquor (and some strength in flavor), and the Darjeeling will give you some of that muscatel taste. Keep in mind that those percentages are totally off-the-cuff; blenders spend endless amounts of time trying to achieve a particular flavor profile for the market they have in mind, and often blend several different grades and origins together in widely differing ratios. For example, PG Tips special blend contains some proportion of Sri Lankan and Kenyan teas. The Goodricke “packet tea” commercial above has Darjeeling and Assam and is intended for the domestic Indian market.

    And the list goes on…

    Sorry for the somewhat vague answer, but it really does depend. So my best advice would be to experiment.

  3. Thanks for the “it depends” advise. Consultants…sheesh…you pay’em big bucks and they come up with that kind of smart-aleck answer πŸ™‚

    60-D:40-A…ok, I’ll give it a shot with that ratio.

    The absence of comment on the music post is because I access your blog in my office (pssst!) where youtube is blocked by the company. So I only see a blank white space where the video is supposed to be. Will check it out tonight at home.

    Thanks, Nikhil.

  4. Big brother is watching πŸ™‚

    Try it out that way, and try doing the reverse as well. 60A, 40D. No guarantees on what you’ll end up with, but worth a shot anyway, don’t you think?

  5. Nikhil,

    I must in all honesty commend your taste in music. That is some mezmerizing performance! It took me into “the zone” as soon as the video started. Enchanting.

    PS: interesting ad, too.

  6. A – If you ever get a chance to see them live in LA, I’d recommend checking them out. I’ve been to a couple of McLaughlin concerts (in Chicago and Detroit), and they can only be described as life altering.

  7. Nikhil, no slight whatsoever intended to jazz or the artists in question (I’m one of only 2 people in my circle of friends who likes jazz – even my wife doesn’t get it.) but…

    The very first thing that flashed through my brain when I caught the title of this post out of the corner of my bleary early morning eye was – and I cringe as I type this – “Jug band.” And I immediately formed a mental movie of the Darlings on the old Andy Griffith TV show.

  8. Rob – thanks for stopping by! I’m glad I could conjure up some old memories!

  9. 9 Lenny


    What a GREAT music video! I also love jazz and classical Indian music, and these gentlemen fuse the styles magnificently ! So mesmerizing an spiritual.

    Can I assume, then, that you also enjoy listening to the band Shakti, from the mid 70’s?, with McLaughlin, Hussain, Shanker & Ravhaven? I have a couple of unreleased, live performances of both Shakti and “Remember Shakti”, which featured McLaughtlin, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shankar Mahadevan, V. Selvaganesh and U. Shrinivas.

    Wonderful stuff, and a great accompaniment to drinking great tea from The Simple Leaf.

  10. Yes, you assume correctly Lenny. LOVE Shakti. Thanks for the comment! Where were those live performances?

  11. 11 Lenny

    Yes they are live, in varying degrees of sound quality.

  12. No, I mean where? πŸ™‚

  13. 13 Lenny

    Rather than clutter up your comment section, I’ll send you a note via Thesimpleleaf.com website.

  14. 14 Lenny

    Nikhil, did you get my message which I sent from the store website?

  15. Sorry – our email has been acting a bit strange of late. It’s fixed now (at least I hope it is). I just sent you an email…

  16. My brother recommended I might like this blog. He used to be totally right.
    This put up actually made my day. You can not imagine simply how
    so much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

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