Research Proposal: Invented Tradition, Tea in Modern Chinese Culture

Like Comment

Agoston Horanyi

Laidlaw Scholar, Durham University, Durham University

Hullo! My main interest these days is Chinese tea culture and, with this research, I am wanting to explore the process of an active tradition invetion. Chinese tea ceremony as a singular entity does not exist and has never existed (at least not in the way it does, say, in Japan). Nonetheless, there is a strong notion for creating a uniquely Chinese approach to tea, an authentic Chinese tea ceremony. By way of looking into the ways how a historically non-existent tea tradition is being invented and tailored to the needs of current-day China, I hope to gain insight into current social, cultural, and political trends, which shape China’s contemporary and future profile. I will be analysing Chinese literary products, tea-related artefacts, religious & philosophical oeuvres, records of drinking fashions, etc., in order to investigate in what ways the Chinese government drives and supports a large-scale process of social engineering and global self-branding with the vehicle of tea.

Comments

Go to the profile of Nikol Chen (she/her)
over 1 year ago

Sounds super interesting, Agoston! I had no idea that tea сulture in China was only invented recently. I love that you chose puer too - it's definitely special...Back in Kazakhstan, many university students drank several cups of puer per day for its effects :) 

Go to the profile of Agoston Horanyi
over 1 year ago

Thank you, Nikol! How very nice, it would be fascinating to look into how and when puer tea found its way to places all around the world.  
It is important to note, though, that it is not so much tea culture itself that has only recently been invented: it has millenia-old history in China. But when it comes to the kind of ceremony—often referred to as gongfu—that is associated with Chinese tea culture today, it is indeed but an amalgam of different traditional brewing methods. The key is to realise that it is only one way of drinking it and is not at all representative, especially not from a historical point-of-view. : )

Go to the profile of Nikol Chen (she/her)
over 1 year ago

Ah, I see! Thank you so much for clarifying! Fascinating nonetheless :)