Research Projects

The Transmission of Tea Culture from Japan to Taiwan and Korea during the 20th century

(Funded under Small Project Funding Scheme, The University of Hong Kong)

Principal Investigator

Lawrence Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences
(Remarks: Dr. Lawrence Zhang left the University’s service from July 1, 2016.)

Total Fund Awarded

HKD 70,380

Project Duration

June 2013 – May 2014

Project Description

The proposed research for this grant is a continuation of this line of inquiry, with a primary focus of understanding similar processes of the creation of national tea traditions in 20th century Korea and Taiwan using knowledge learned from Japan. In both cases, there was a strong Japanese colonial legacy, but whereas in Taiwan there was always a native and active tea culture that pre-dated the Japanese occupation, in Korea such a tradition was nonexistent outside of a small circle surrounding the court. The recent revival of interest in tea in Korea led to the wholesale invention of a new tradition of darye that derives much of its meaning and form from Japanese tea ceremony. Likewise, the core of tea practitioners who were instrumental in the revival of Taiwanese tea culture starting in the 1970s borrowed heavily from the Japanese tradition, often without acknowledging their inheritance and instead couching it in terms of an unbroken Chinese tradition. Both of these cases highlight the processes that are involved in the creation and the mythologization of cultural practices that are seen as “traditional” and “native”, when in fact the opposite is true. The ultimate transmission of Taiwanese knowledge back to China also brings the line of communication full circle, with Japanese developments since the 1500s informing Chinese tea drinking in the 21st century.