You, Me and Tea

You, Me and Tea

A group of six women standing side by side with raised tea cups in their hands

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Exploring Northern Ireland’s association with tea, its trade links with India and China, and bringing diverse communities together.

The project worked with community groups and schools to collect stories about people’s connection to the industrial and cultural heritage of tea in Northern Ireland and Southeast Asia.

Over tea ceremonies, in workshops and on tours, participants discussed topics ranging from tea pickers to dockers and past tea merchants to present day tea suppliers.

Nisha Tandon, Chief Executive of ArtsEkta, said: “Everyone was so enthusiastic to take part in this project and really wanted to know more about our tea connections. It brought together the local community and multiple generations of people from Indian and Chinese background.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a change in approach, the You, Me and Tea project still achieved all the outcomes they originally set out.

The exhibition – which, along with telling the story of tea in Northern Ireland, features artwork created by project participants and tea ware from China and India ­– is on tour throughout 2023. In 2024, it will form part of an Ulster Museum exhibition on tea.

A table on the left featuring tea pots, and informational panels on the wall straight ahead

The project website will preserve the collected oral histories and features a digital tea tour around Belfast. The oral histories have also been donated to the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.

Nisha said: “I’m so proud of how the exhibition turned out and the stories that we collected along the way. And to see all the connections that were made over the subject of tea was just amazing.”