Hong Kong-style milk tea takes centre stage at cultural exhibition in Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 August, 2014, 5:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 August, 2014, 5:31am

Thousands of cups of Hong Kong's "silk-stocking" milk tea will be served to visitors at an exhibition in Taiwan showcasing the city's cultural heritage.

Intangible cultural heritage will take centre stage at Hong Kong Week 2014 in Taipei, the third annual showcase presented by the Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Cooperation Committee.

The October 17 to November 2 exhibition will feature 480 items that best represent the Hong Kong community and provide cultural continuity. "We can showcase Hong Kong history, tradition, personality and local products," said committee convenor Fredric Mao Chun-fai.

Previous Hong Kong Week exhibitions have featured contemporary art, music, design and dance. This year's event would feature a mix of serious and lighthearted attractions, Mao said.

Chau Hing-wah, curator of the Heritage Museum, told the South China Morning Post the exhibition would feature items of cultural heritage not included in Unesco's list or the national list, but which were on the city's inventory, such as Hong Kong-style milk tea. Hong Kong's inventory was announced in June and was drawn up following passage of a UN convention on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.

Simon Wong Ka-wor, chairman of the Association of Coffee and Tea of Hong Kong - which runs the International Kam Cha, or milk tea, competition to pick the master milk tea brewer - said Mok Pui-ling, last year's champion, would make 2,000 cups of milk tea at the exhibition.

The association estimates Hongkongers drink 2.5 million cups of milk tea per day at nearly 10,000 milk-tea outlets in the city.

Wong said Hong Kong-style, silk-stocking milk tea - named because it is served strained through a cloth bag similar to women's tights - was nearly a century old and had a very different taste from "bubble milk tea".

"Few places in Taiwan serve Hong Kong-style milk tea," Wong said. "It is still something very new to the Taiwanese."

He said the association would be sponsoring materials for the demonstrations in Taipei, including equipment, paper cups, tea leaves, milk and sugar.

"It will provide enough to supply about 2,000 cups," he said. "This is a great opportunity - not just to promote the cultural heritage of Hong Kong, but also to help brand the city."

Other heritage items on show at the exhibition, covering more than 1,000 square metres, will include a Unesco-listed Cantonese opera performance and a bamboo theatre, as well as a six-metre King of Ghosts paper statue, one of the icons of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival - which is on the national heritage list.

Unesco-listed herbal tea will also be presented, alongside the Tai Hang fire dragon dance, Tai O dragon boat water parade and Yu Lan Ghost Festival, which all feature on the national list.

Chau said a number of items for which national listing was sought last year would feature in the exhibition, including Hong Kong Quanzhen temples, Taoist ritual music, Wong Tai Sin beliefs and customs, the production technique for the seven-stringed guqin instrument, and a Hakka unicorn dance.