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China Daily Global / 2021-02 / 19 / Page014

Chinese tea specialist still offering a hot cup of culture

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-19 00:00

SINGAPORE-Many of his Singaporean clients were surprised to find Chinese tea specialist Wang Yong had traveled from China to Singapore to continue publicizing Chinese tea culture amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Wang believed he should persevere with the 22-year engagement.

"Some of my old clients in Singapore told me in phone calls that they missed my tea, more so when they can't go abroad during the holiday season and visit each other's house freely," Wang says, explaining what motivated him to participate in the 28th edition of the Spring in the City and Happy Chinese New Year exhibition on culture, art and tourism from Jan 20 to Feb 28.

The event, featuring a combination of performance and exhibition, is jointly hosted by Singapore's Golden International Holdings and the Huaxia Cultural Hub, with the Chinese embassy in Singapore as the honorary sponsor.

Sitting at a temporary booth in the downtown Raffles City shopping mall, Wang says that, since he was invited to the yearly event in 1999, he has turned up every following year, and spent every Spring Festival in Singapore. Chinese Lunar New Year is an occasion for gatherings during which tea might be served, so it's a good opportunity to promote Chinese tea culture in Singapore, Wang says.

Tea has been part of daily life in China since the old days and is part of the country's cultural heritage, says Wang, surrounded by a display of tea sets and packets. The tea ceremony is also an art, soothing and relaxing, he adds.

The news that some Singaporeans had hoarded milk tea, when shops were ordered to suspend business in order to contain the spread of the virus last year in Singapore, caught Wang's attention and he believes that Chinese tea is better for people's health, particularly during the pandemic, when people have to stay at home more and exercise less than usual.

Quite a few Singaporeans joined Wang this year at his tea lecture and ceremony, including Ch'ng Jit Koon, Singapore's former senior minister of state for community development, despite the pandemic.

Over the years, greater numbers of people in Singapore have somehow been influenced by Wang, which makes him believe that he has done something right.

At the invitation of Katie Zheng, the owner of Katia Verde Art Gallery in Singapore, Wang showcased a Chinese tea ceremony in February last year, jointly hosted by the Royal Commonwealth Society of Singapore, to welcome a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Delegation from the UK Parliament. It was highly appreciated by the Western participants and was posted on the British High Commission in Singapore's official social media account.

When explaining the Chinese tea culture to Westerners, Wang likes to link it with the Western people's passion for wine.

Wang, who is also the executive director of a culture company in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, developed his love for Chinese tea after needing a tea expert for a program. After failing to find one due to time constraints, he began to teach himself.

It is only after years of devotion that he has mastered the temperatures, tools, methods and other elements that bring out the flavors of the teas. This is somewhat similar to wine, according to Wang.

Wang also learned English in order to better communicate with foreigners.

He says that there is a sense of responsibility on his part and a genuine need on the part of his clients, which have encouraged him to keep up with promoting Chinese tea culture in Singapore this year, as well as in the years to come.




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