August 24, 2015, by Emma Lowry
Malaysia/UK, all the way!
A love of tea-drinking and football are familiar cultural references to British life….but did you know they are also woven into the fabric of Malaysian society? Our next few blog posts to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The University of Nottingham in Malaysia will explore some of the many long-standing, and sometimes surprising, connections between Britain and Malaysia.
Always time for tea
Britain is a tea-obsessed nation, for sure. Brits consume more tea than any other nation in the world; a whopping 165 million cups a day! The love affair with this hot beverage has been going on for centuries, and in fact, tea production is something Britain introduced to Malaysia many years ago.
Tea bushes were first planted in the mountainous Cameron Highlands by British colonists in 1926. Dubbed Malaysia’s “green bowl”, the Highlands have a cool, rainy climate and rich, fertile soil, which are ideal growing conditions for flavoursome, aromatic black tea.
The area is consequently home to vast tea plantations. It is also a popular Malaysian holiday destination, offering respite from the hot, equatorial conditions in cities like Kuala Lumpur. The British influence is still evident in the Highlands today, in the mock-Tudor buildings and country inns that serve quintessentially English afternoon teas.
Not to be outdone, Malaysia has its own famous take on ceremonious tea-drinking. Teh tarik is a popular milky, tea drink equally likely to be served in five-star coffee shops and street stalls across Malaysia.
The name literally translates as ‘pulled tea’, after the ‘stretching’ process in which the beverage is repeatedly poured from a great height from one cup to another. This theatrical act is believed to thoroughly mix the tea and sweet, condensed milk, accentuating its exceptionally strong aroma and resulting in a creamy texture and thick, frothy top, a bit like on a café latte. Yum!
Vjay is a taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur (and friend to The University of Nottingham press office). Always a font of knowledge and a helping hand, Vjay has kindly filmed a teh tarik street vendor in action to demonstrate the pouring process!
Malaysians are so devoted to their hot beverage that an annual competition, Piala Ttam, is now staged, where professional tea-makers the length and breadth of the country battle it out to be crowned the Dairy Champ Teh Tarik winner.
The British punk scene came to define this rebellious youth subculture (at its height in the early to mid-1970s), with notorious bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Stranglers. With its anti-authoritarian ideology, punk developed a highly distinctive style, with deliberately offensive slogan t-shirts, leather jackets and studded or spiked jewellery. Famous punk rock bands courted publicity with their outrageous behaviour and anarchistic attitude, all of which was lapped up by the British media.
While its mainstream significance has diminished today, punk has returned to its underground roots with thriving scenes around the world, including – perhaps surprisingly – Malaysia! In 2015, University of Nottingham web and SEO expert, Guy Berresford, visited South East Asia. On his travels he visited Rumah Api in Kuala Lumpur, an alternative art and music hangout for activists and artists. His video diary documents a Malaysian punk scene which is very much alive and kicking. Multicultural Malaysian punks challenge white supremacist stereotypes about the movement. They also defy aggressive perceptions; once the head-banging sets are over, they use the profits from Rumah Api gigs to support the needy in their local communities.
If you have memories to share of working or studying at The University of Nottingham in Malaysia, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep up with the 15th anniversary celebrations of Malaysia campus, using #UNMC15 on Twitter between July and September 2015.