Sydney’s Yum-cha is a three-part miniseries, celebrating the culture of yum-cha.
Told by members of the Chinese migrant community, yum-cha to many feels nostalgic. It has always been messy and chaotic. But that’s the appeal. Trolleys rolling with steaming bamboo baskets, paper dockets stained with tea and rumbling lazy-susans, kids fighting for the last siu-mai. Under the lens of analogue film, this documentary is a nostalgic perspective into the beauty of yum-cha in Sydney. The episodes dive into: history and ubiquity of yum-cha in Sydney; tea etiquette; and how yum-cha chaos is organised.
Many are raised with going to yum-cha every week since childhood. For some, yum-cha is a ritual in their childhood and lifestyle. For others, it’s reserved for a special occasion. One things for sure, yum-cha in Sydney is an experience that many are personally fond of.
“Increasingly, it’s the “imperfect” that feels especially authentic—a counter to the standardized, mass-produced or otherwise polished offerings that prevail today…”
Yum-cha in Sydney radiates nostalgia.It’s systematically messy and chaotic. But that’s the appeal. The ‘imperfections’ or lack of a clear structure is what adds to the meaning of this culture. Trolleys rolling with steaming bamboo baskets piling up in one corner, paper dockets stained with tea and rumbling table tops, kids fighting for the last siu mai. This experience is what defines yum-cha.
This series uses nostalgia to style and frame yum-cha in a particular lens for the audience to feel like they have been transported into these little hub of the old but still situated here in the present. Yum-cha in Sydney hasn’t changed or evolved too drastically and so entering a restaurant is almost walking into this pocket of the 80s and 90s. It’s become uniquely Sydney or Australian when it comes to the trolleys and paper docket system in comparison to China’s use of iPads and conventional waiters. Nostalgia is developed as a language in the series to transport us back and forth in time.
Lived in Sydney for over 20 years. Frequents yum-cha 3-4 times a week. 20x3x54 = over 3,240 yum-cha experiences