Cross-cultural Narratives of Australian Engagement with East Asian Tea Culture

Dr Jinghong Zhang1

1Southern University of Science and Technology, , China

A mature “Australian tea culture” is yet to come, but it has been borrowing a lot of elements from other cultures. Currently influence from the East Asian tea culture, especially Chinese, is prominent. “Australian tea culture” is also in the process of being hotly discussed, discovered, practiced and invented by specific groups, whom I call “Australian tea activists” and who actively hold special and regular commercial promotions, professional workshops and small-scale tea gatherings in urban Australia. This paper aims to use robust cross-cultural narratives to depict and reflect upon the encounter, conflict and confluence in food ways between Australia and Asia in the new era of globalization and localization. In this presentation, based on anthropological participant observation and interview conducted in Australian cities, I will provide case studies from a tea festival, an office tea gathering, and a workshop pairing tea and cheese, to illustrate how the East Asian tea culture is being accepted, rejected, transformed or mixed with new elements in the Australian context.


Dr Jinghong Zhang is an Associate Professor at Southern University of Science and Technology. She was awarded a PhD in anthropology at the Australian National University (ANU) and then a postdoctoral fellow at ANU’s Australian Centre on China in the World before commencing her current position in 2017. Her research areas include anthropology of food and consumption, and visual anthropology. One of her current research projects looks at the national identity construction encapsulated in the flow of commodity goods across China and Australian.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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