BRISBANE, Australia—Westerners may think of English high teas when tea is mentioned, and the black tea’s origins being India or Ceylon, but the majority of tea is grown in other Eastern countries where tea culture is more refined and varied.
Tea plays a big part in Taiwanese celebrations, especially on Taiwan’s National Day. The Taiwanese being such friendly people, they share this tea ceremony with those lucky enough to attend their gatherings. According to webmaster Ross MacIver, “Tea is part of the social fabric of Taiwan,” and “Come in and drink tea,” is a standard greeting to guests.
This year Taiwan celebrated its 104th birthday on Oct 10, Double Tenth Day, at an evening gathering at Brisbane’s Hilton, where many Westerners were introduced to the delightful experience of tea tasting, as opposed to wine tasting.
As guests arrived in the reception area, a small pouch containing a tea cup was given to each person as name tags were collected.
Moving, from tea table to tea table, guests used their personal teacups as they tasted and learnt about a variety of Taiwanese teas, and at the same time were able to meet other guests through informal conversations.
The ballroom filled as a warm welcome to the birthday celebrations was given by Taiwan’s Director General Ken Lai, of Taipei’s Economic and Cultural Office in Brisbane, who expressed his appreciation to all attendees saying, “Your gracious presence … has made the event more meaningful.” As part of his opening speech he introduced Taiwan’s award winning malt whisky news together with an informative and entertaining NTD Television ‘Thank You Taiwan’ video.
Australian officials talked about sister cities, economic partnerships, and the benefits of friendship with Taiwan—how they were learning a little about Taiwanese hospitality throughout this National Day reception.
Jim Chalmers, the federal member for Rankin, spoke about taking advice on brief speeches from Mr. Lai and acknowledge the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the Taiwanese in his electorate.
“Ken talked about the relationship between our two countries … I wanted to talk about another thing that we really appreciate about the Taiwanese—about the nation of Taiwan—and that is your people in particular … I know you have this terrific entrepreneurial spirit in the Taiwanese community. I know it is a community marked by creativity and dynamism,” said Chalmers.
State Health Minister Cameron Dick spoke about the huge support from fellow parliamentarians in the bridge building between Queensland and Taiwan; not only economically, but “that people-bridge we build between Queensland and the people of Taiwan,” he said. Duncan Pegg, state member for Stretton, was looking forward to meeting everyone after his speech, “I am delighted to be here celebrating the 104th National Day of the ROC Taiwan,” he said.
After the traditional dancing and glittering diabolo entertainment many guests struck up new acquaintances during the evening as they enjoyed both Eastern and Western refreshments.
Attendees were then encouraged to stay a little longer and taste more of the famous Taiwanese teas, which were served tea ceremony style at each of the tea tables, a place to taste the smooth oolong tea that we were told “helps you sleep soundly.”
With reporting from NTD Television.