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#123 Pouring Tea for Others

Posted July 25th, 2009 by Peter · 13 Comments

Pouring Tea for Others: “R.E.S.P.E.C.T (Find out what it means to me.)”
by Vannie Sung

asian-tea6We’re tea fanatics. Since the beginning of Chinese culture, the presence of tea has been in our lives- you see it served in restaurants before every meal, regardless of the time of day you’re eating. Heck, I bet when the Chinese heard about the dumping of tea into the Boston Harbor, they were more than traumatized (come on, those Americans shouldn’t have wasted anything in the first place..).

Unlike the Brits, to us tea possesses more of a stigma- not to just class behavior, but to age as well. Growing up in the States, I didn’t understand why my parents lectured me on pouring tea for elders and plating for those younger. The way I perceived it, I didn’t want some nosy stranger continuously heaping food onto my plate (sheesh, dealing with two overbearing parents is enough.)

But to my parents, a small act is analyzed extra carefully. Infamily fact, you were considered inconsiderate or immature if you didn’t lend a hand with the teapot and stuff the younger generation sitting around the table. Regardless, you are family if you eat with us. Like “The Godfather” mentality, you are part of our ”family” connection, our inner circle. In fact, it’s an unwritten rule addressing those who aren’t related to us as “Uncle”, “Grandfather”, and so forth.

And although I am American by birth, it is my Asian heritage that serves to  remind me that our culture puts me in the same boat. So the next time you’re out for a meal during one of those weekends designated specifically for family time, pour that tea. And if your family is dining with another, keep your reflexes sharp for empty tea cups (and enjoy the fight for the check when dinner is over). No questions asked.

Thank you Vannie for the wonderul post! It really shows how different cultures may clash and cause misunderstandings, but in the end; it’s understanding that ultimately prevails!


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Tags: Activities · Asian Parenting · Chores · Customs · Environment · Food & Beverage · Habits · People · Relationships · Social · Work

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 hadashi // Jul 25, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    is this why i’m always the one pouring everyone more wine, more water, more coffee, and yes…more tea? i have actually been called out on my “ninja-like” cup refilling skills (no one catches me doing it) but didn’t really ever connect it back to my Asian upbringing… that was a silly oversight. thanks, SAPL; you’ve solved yet another behavioural mystery for me! (most recent was the parking lot gatherings; before that, the water filter obsession.)

  • 2 asianfailblog // Jul 26, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    the Asian culture highly values service, even subtleties like pouring tea. I used to always greet my dad at the door, because it was a great sign of respect to greet him at the door to acknowledge that he worked hard for me all day. little signs of respect in Asian culture would do well to cross over into other, especially American, cultures where elders aren’t really respected.

  • 3 Anonymous // Aug 1, 2009 at 4:24 am

    nice post. I find this is the most prevalent (in China) the farther South you get. It’s lost most of its traditional value in Mainland China, but it’s nice to pour tea for your elders, especially two generations or more. It’s still extremely prevalent in Hong Kong though, as is the practice of tapping on the table (usually the index and middle finger together) to show thanks for pouring tea.

  • 4 clal // Sep 13, 2009 at 7:40 am

    the term “ASIAN” is very controvercial.

    actually, what we usually call asian is the asian of HANZI CULTURAL BELT.

    TRUE ASIAN is CHINESE(including taiwanese),KOREAN,JAPANESE.

    you fake southeastasian don’t pretend to be an asian.
    you are just asianwannabe whose IQ and ability are below ASIAN STANDARD.

    (IQ and global inequality)

  • 5 Eurasian Sensation // Sep 23, 2009 at 3:12 am

    @ clal:
    Don’t make me laugh.
    Who is this WE that you speak of? What YOU usually call Asian or “True Asian” is entirely up to you. But normal intelligent people refer to Asians as being people from Asia. Which, last time I checked a map, includes South East Asia. Hence the name “South East ASIA”. Notice that? Not controversial at all.

    I’m not sure you are in a position to criticise others IQ and ability consider the nature of your spelling and grammar.

    Now sod off and take your racism elsewhere.

  • 6 clal // Sep 26, 2009 at 1:35 am

    you’re making me laugh, Mr. Eurasian Sexparty.
    first of all , don’t be a correctman.
    cuz It’s just ridiculus.
    and I don’t wanna cause a heartattack on you, Mr.ES.
    n e ways, South East Asian have done nothing important in History and now they just want to be like NE asians.
    but the problem is , lack of brain ability(yeah, you can see whole bunch of poor SE Asia nations, they have no ability to develop a modern technology)
    but thanks to Chinese peoples, some SE asia nations are improving thanks to backing up by chinese brains who actually have a control over the nations.
    anyways, stop being pathetic , and grow ur own brain. cuz , u know , the lack of brain ability.

  • 7 Eurasian Sensation // Sep 27, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Yeah, I guess I’m just not smart enough to argue with you huh, Mr Superior North East Asian. It’s a shame that all that brainpower of yours can’t make you a nice person. Someone as super-intelligent as you say you are should have better things to do than hang around on this website and stir up racial hate. Then you might realise how much other NE Asians would be ashamed of the attitude you are expressing here.

    Anyway, my poor inadequate white/Indonesian brain may never be able to compete with your obvious level of genius, but hey, at least I’m not an asshole like you. And I feel pretty good about that.

  • 8 clal // Sep 29, 2009 at 9:30 am

    the word accepted.
    the sarcasm accepted.
    I was an asshole.
    I was so pissed off by malay assholes at that time
    pretty much same way isn’t it
    you were just wrongly taken by those comments.
    there were many biological researchs on this issue even few years ago, but u know most of it were just totally hushed up, cuz It was socially unacceptable ,so called racism and human equality such things even though science should be apart from that matter.
    but I’m not gonna make a long winded explanation here, so peace.

  • 9 got-rice // Oct 11, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    pouring tea is very true…everytime i go eat with grandma or my folks, i’m expected to do this. on the other hand, if you’re out with a girl, it also scores brownie points.

  • 10 Andy // Jan 20, 2010 at 9:22 am

    (and enjoy the fight for the check when dinner is over).

    so,so true.

  • 11 Jenny // Jul 31, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Wonderful post. I think the simple act of pouring tea is not only a sign of respect, but helps one become more conscientious.

  • 12 nvth // Oct 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    this guy must be a conservative chink

  • 13 ilovehorseyrides // Jun 9, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    My dad expects me to pour tea for him

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