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Asians Love Tea

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A fairly common stereotype, Asian characters (especially East Asians and South Asians) are shown to rival the British when it comes to downing cups of warm, well-made tea. The reason is simple: tea was invented in China over five thousand years ago and quickly spread to its neighbors, then all around the world. As such, the Asian love for tea is associated with tradition and the old ways.

Expect to see wise old Magical Asian mentors and other traditional characters being very picky about their tea brewing temperatures, tea as the Trademark Favorite Drink of the Token Asian or members of Asian diasporas, references to high-class drinking practices and/or elaborate and intricate tea ceremonies, and Asian tourists scoffing at coffee and complaining that Western tea tastes like dishwater.

In Real Life, tea drinking remains an integral part of culture and routine in many parts of Asia to this day, with many variations throughout individual countries and across the continent, though some countries are actually more partial to coffee. Turkey is the largest tea consuming country in the world, and it's situated in (West) Asia.

Note that it is not enough to be an Asian character who drinks tea, especially if the majority of the cast is Asian. The work has to link the two traits, such as by emphasizing its importance in traditions, having most if not all Asian characters be avid tea-drinkers, or by contrasting them against the tea-drinking habits (or lack thereof) of non-Asians.

For information, see our page on Tea and Tea Culture. Compare Brits Love Tea, Must Have Caffeine, Drink-Based Characterization.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Since this is a series that heavily plays on Nations as People and national stereotypes, this has popped up in more Asian characters than not, particularly among the East Asian crowd.
    • Japan and China have both been seen drinking tea, as the page image demonstrates.
    • One of Taiwan's Trademark Favorite Foods is bubble tea (which is invented by her people).
    • In his image song "Hoi Sam☆Nice Guy", Hong Kong mentions being taught by England to have (high) tea in the afternoon, and notes on both 'yum cha' (dim sum with Chinese tea) and milk tea. Historically, the former is more 'traditional' Chinese (or at least Cantonese) while the latter is definitely adopted from the colonial period.
    • Macau is shown with a tea cup quite often and drinks it while listening to his siblings fighting.
    • Outside of East Asia, India has been seen with a teacup in one piece of official art.
    • On the other hand, very few of the non-Asian characters are seen drinking tea other than England.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: Brought up in a deliberately condescending manner when Domon Kasshu, the Gundam Fighter for Neo-Japan, arrives in London to challenge Gentle Chapman, Neo-England's Fighter. Chapman brings Domon to his home and has his wife Manon pour them some tea. Domon is quietly if visibly angry over what he sees as a waste of time, but Manon suggests that Domon is put off because he would have preferred to have green tea. At this point, Domon slams his fist on the table, tells Chapman to Dispense with the Pleasantries, and demands a fight.
  • My-HiME: Shizuru tries to present herself as a proper Kyoto lady, complete with Kyoto-ben dialect. Prior to the reveal of her as a HiME, she is almost never seen without a cup of tea in her hands and is even shown performing a traditional tea ceremony for a group of investors in an early episode.
  • The first volume of Oishinbo, which focuses on Japanese cuisine, has a whole chapter on the tea ceremony. Shiro notes that there are many tea ceremony masters who forgot the essence of humility and subtlety in the modern tea ceremonies, which resulted in him rejecting an experienced tea ceremony master's teachings when the tea ceremony master uses too many additives in his dishes.

    Comic Books 
  • Generation X: Jubilee and Monet go out for a trip together to New York City. Jubilee, who is Chinese-American, goes out of her way to introduce Monet to Bubble Tea, telling her it's going to be popular in coffee shops like Starbucks in the very near future. This was in the early 2000s.

    Fan Works 
  • Elementary My Dear Natsuki: Shizuru Viola incorporates elements of both her My-HiME and My-Otome characterizations. In-story, she is half-Japanese and half-Italian (justifying her Viola surname). She practices tea ceremony and wears kimono regularly as a way of acknowledging her Asian heritage.

    Films — Animated 
  • Being Chinese, the characters of Mulan drink tea. Being able to prepare and pour tea properly is part of the matchmaker's test for Mulan early on in the film to see if she can be a good wife. Mulan's father also drinks a medicinal blend for an unspecified condition.
  • In Turning Red, the first scene involving Mei's grandma and aunts after that of their arrival is them being served tea in traditional-looking handle-less cups.

  • In The Babysitters Club, Claudia's grandmother Mimi is a native of Japan, and she frequently shares cups of her "special tea" with Claudia, her sister Janine, and their motherless neighbor Mary Anne. It's indicated to be tea of Japanese origin and is only served in Japanese cups with no handles.
  • Crazy Rich Asians pays attention to the tea culture for both Asian-Americans and Singaporeans. Several of the protagonists love their tea.
    • Romantic leads Rachel and Nick are introduced at their favorite tea spot, which is where Nick asks her to Meet the In-Laws. In between major events, characters like Astrid or Sophie are seen ordering and drinking tea.
    • Nick's grandmother Shang Su Yi hosts luxurious afternoon tea, with Rachel's narration pointing out the delicious lychee tea from the expensive tea sets.
    • The Gohs take Rachel to a family friend, Dr. Gu, who explains the Young family to them. When they arrive he is making tea, and Wye Mun explains the intricacies of his tea ritual to Rachel and his daughter.
  • Discworld: In Interesting Times, the Agatean Empire (the Disc's generically East Asian country) has a deep tea culture. The tea ceremony ("It took three hours, but you couldn't hurry a good cuppa") is one of the Great Arts that Lord Hong does perfectly, and some Agateans who talk to the barbarian ghosts from beyond the Wall are shocked to learn the world outside the Empire even has tea.
  • Judge Dee downs gallons of tea in the course of his cases. In fact, he hits the teapot the way Sam Spade hits the bottle. This being Imperial China, everybody else is equally addicted (except for his faithful Lieutenants Ma Joon and Chiao Tai, who prefer "the amber liquid", i.e. wine). A cuppa is even offered to witnesses and criminals in court, to revive them after a round of beating or being overpowered by emotion.
    • In Poets and Murders, the Judge goes to the tea cozy in his room for a cuppa only to find the pot empty. He then goes off on a round of visits expecting his hosts to offer him a cup of tea, but they don't. By the time the Judge reaches his colleague Magistrate Lo's office, he is desperate and rapidly downs two cups in quick succession.
  • Whateley Universe: All the East Asian characters (even those who only look Asian as a result of their mutation or magical transformation) love their tea. Team Kimba now has a weekly tea party every Sunday, where they relax, drink tea, and just chat about stuff. It seems to be proving quite therapeutic, which isn't terribly surprising considering the wringers they all regularly get put through.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bridgerton is set in an Alternate History Regency England and features much tea-drinking (as in the historical Regency) and many English nobs of mixed Indian origin (unlike the historical Regency). In season two, Indian-born Kate arrives in London and expresses distaste for flavorless British tea compared to Indian chai and insists that she makes her tea herself.
  • Elementary: When Sherlock Holmes gets sick in "You Do It To Yourself", Joan Watson makes him some traditional Chinese herbal tea using her mother's recipe. The English Holmes complains that it's not actually tea. Watson responds by citing research that has proven the herbs' medical benefits, and then tells him to shut up and drink it. In the same episode, the murder they're investigating is of an Asian Studies professor with a major Foreign Culture Fetish for China whose autopsy reveals he was using Chinese herbal tea to treat the pain from his ocular cancer.
  • The Librarians 2014: When the representative of the Eastern Dragons shows up at the Annex to demand an arbiter, Jenkins offers him refreshments. He tells Jenkins he wants the tears of his enemies, wrenched from their bodies as they're tortured to death. Jenkins, deadpan, tells him that they have Jasmine tea. The representative has a look of delight on his face, and, unironically states that Jasmine tea would be lovely.
  • Plain Love revolves around a family of tea farmers in 1940s China, with various scenes in multiple episodes having the main characters emphasizing the importance of tea in Chinese culture and producing the best tea in the country. In the third installment of the series, Plain Love III, the main characters start a wine-producing industry instead, but the importance of tea in their culture is still a frequently-mentioned plot point.

  • The Nutcracker traditionally features a "Chinese tea" segment as the protagonist Clara explores the Land of Sweets. The "Tea" dance includes various Asian elements (Fu Manchu moustaches, conical straw hats).

    Video Games 
  • In 9 Monkeys of Shaolin, you play as a fisherman-turned-Shaolin monk, and the first rule imposed by the monks is that you "will not engage in vice like wine and women", so you give up drinking liquor and starts drinking tea instead. During gameplay, you can actually drink tea to restore health, with the rare red tea capable of curing poison and stopping bleeding.
  • In Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, set in Imperial China, tea is a top-tier commodity necessary to upgrade your housing to its best forms. It's also valuable as a trade good.
  • The Legend Of Tian Ding, a game set in 19th-Century Taiwan, have your titular protagonist drinking tea to restore health. There are even tea-stations which could restore your life to maximum, a few which were conspicuously placed right before boss fights.
  • Pokémon: Much like how their possible relatives Sinistea and Polteageist represent the Brits Love Tea trope, Poltchageist and Sinistcha represent this trope. They're matcha tea-inspired Pokémon who originate from a rural Japan-based region, and their designs include a number of references to the aspects of a Japanese tea ceremony.
  • Monks in World of Warcraft are heavily wuxia-themed, much like the Pandaren the class originates from. Many of the Mistweaver (healer) spec's abilities revolve around drinking special teas to restore mana or empower their spells.

    Visual Novels 
  • Double Homework: Lampshaded by the British-Japanese Morgan when she mentions that she drinks tea because she comes from "two tea-drinking cultures".


    Western Animation