A Year in Review: Cold Tea Collective’s Highlights of 2019

2019 was a year of inspired action for Cold Tea Collective. Hitting the ground running after an epic 2018 (read Asian August), 2019 was a year where we along with our community (in the words of Simu Liu), stepped into its light and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the conversation.

Cold Tea Collective started as a way to share stories where we could connect with one another and within ourselves, tapping unexplored stories from our past, reflected in our present lives, and telling of our future. 

Here are some of the 2019 highlights, proud moments, and top stories and experiences we shared with our community.

Listen to our Pearls of Wisdom audio recap featuring exclusive, unheard interview clips from 2019 and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

NO LONGER THE TOKEN ASIAN

With the rise of groups like Subtle Asian Traits, Asian Creative Network, and more, we learn that we are no longer the token Asian. There are others who grew up the same way as us, laugh at the same things, and even cry at the same experiences.

This past year, we saw first-hand the strength of our community at events across North America. This past summer, we even had the opportunity to support and collaborate with our friends at Subtle Asian Networking at an event on diverse careers. 

Photo Credit: Emily Kuang

GOLDEN MOMENTS

The Farewell

It started with Crazy Rich Asians, and has continued on through organizations like Gold Open, an initiative started to support the successful opening of films. With the support of those like the Shibutani siblings, Jon M. Chu, David Chang and more, supporters who have the means to buy out entire theatres provide an opportunity to the public to make the film viewing experience accessible and more widely-celebrated. One of Gold Open’s celebrated films in 2019 was The Farewell, starring Awkwafina. 

We had the opportunity to attend a pre-wide-release screening of The Farewell in Los Angeles as part of a special screening at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. We even got to say hello to Nora from Queens herself, along with director Lulu Wang (while being photobombed by Daniel Dae Kim). 

Photo Credit: Natasha Jung

With the collective action of Gold Open, CAPE, and enablement of the Asian American and Canadian community, the film celebrated the highest theatre average of the year, surpassing Avengers: Endgame. Cold Tea Collective even hosted our own informal meet-up at the Vancouver premiere. 

Photo Credit: Cold Tea Collective

Chris Pang as GQ Australia’s Breakout Star of the Year

From Crazy Rich Asians to Charlie’s Angels and more, Chris Pang challenged what it means to be Australian and was recognized as ‘Breakout Star of the Year’ by GQ Australia

I just tell people I’m Australian and let them figure out that being Australian doesn’t just mean being blonde-haired and blue-eyed.

Chris Pang

Watch Pang and Hayden Szeto talk about the quintessential Asian man’s hair and KBBQ in this video, and read more of our interview with him about his upcoming projects next year.

Watching Pang progress in his career has been inspiring. If you haven’t heard the story of how we met him, listen to our podcast at the 99:00 mark, and don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast for more Pearls of Wisdom

WHEN FRIENDS BECOME FAMILY

Since the early days of Cold Tea Collective, we’ve drawn inspiration and strength from those with the courage and strength to do what others won’t do — one of those people is Osric Chau, who brings together people like no other. 

In 2019, Chau introduced us to Yoshi Sudarso, Peter Sudarso, Manny Shih, Chantal Thuy (a fellow DC superhero), the cast and crew of Empty By Design, and many more. 

While Chau may be one of DC’s newest superheroes, The Atom, we think that his ability to connect is his most special superpower.  

WE FAN-GIRLED OVER WONG FU, IRL 

Wong Fu shaped our understanding of what it was to be Just Another Nice Guy, what it means to be a Yappie, and what it would look like if there was an Asian Bachelorette.

This spring we got to sit down with the legendary Phil Wang in Bopomofo Cafe and learn about why he decided to open a boba shop. 

Other Wong Fu friends we met in 2019 include Victoria Park, Desmond Chiam, Peter Sudarso and more. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for the Wong Fu fam! 

COLD TEA WRITES — AND READS

Not only does Cold Tea Collective write stories for, by, and about the Asian experience, we also read about it. This fall, we launched Cold Tea Reads, an in-person and offline book club, celebrating Asian authors and our stories. 

Find out what we’re reading here, and follow along with our December/January pick: Ali Wong’s Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life.

Cold Tea Reads
Cold Tea Reads

Real-life Inspira-Asians

Entrepreneurs

Asians represent nearly one-third of the American workforce, creating some of the biggest everyday-use products and services like YouTube, Twitch, and more. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than two million Asian-owned businesses in America, with 39 percent of those entrepreneurs identifying as women. 

In the fall of 2019, we celebrated Asian entrepreneurs by kicking off our first themed campaign, The Entrepreneur Series, and hosted out first marquee event to connect in person about the challenges and opportunities as entrepreneurs. 

Photo Credit: Gordon Shieh

From accounting, wellness, fashion, food, and more, we are proud to support Asian business owners

Your Stories

A place for us, by us, we welcomed our community from all over North America and beyond to share stories about their lives. 

Our contributors shared how they are reshaping our understanding of identity and representation from the lens of cultural practices and the patriarchy like lion dancing

You took the leap to chase our creative communication through photos. Through our bi-weekly #Photogfeature, we featured many of your experiences through the lens of an Asian millennial in North America. A piece that resonated with us, in particular, was our feature on Ivan Ng and why he left his comfortable job in the United States to cover the Hong Kong protests

Our queer Asian community shared what it means to be queer and Asian in North America and the life lessons they learned along the way.

Korean-American actor and LGBTQ champion Jake Choi revealed that pride means “being unapologetically yourself, even in the face of adversity, discrimination and persecution…and love who you want to.” 

Watch this video to learn how the Single Parents actor thinks we can be better allies for our Queer Asian friends and family in media and in real life.

A MOVEMENT, NOT A MOMENT

In the voice of Zoolander’s Mugatu: “Asians – so hot right now”. We can’t tell you how many times we heard this over the last year; while it’s exciting to be noticed, we’ve always been here. 2019 marked a year of continuous improvement, collaboration and inspiration. 

Cold Tea Collective would not be able to do what it does without the support of our team members across North America. This time last year in 2018, our team was four people — we have now expanded to 15 and growing.

Our team members span from our home base of Vancouver, B.C., to other parts of North America like Montreal, New York, the Midwest, Los Angeles and more. We are so incredibly humbled to have people reach out to us to collaborate, contribute, and move the needle on sharing the Asian experience. 

What does 2020 hold? More shared stories, experiences, for us, by us. 

If you want to learn more about how you can contribute a personal story, check out this page. You can also subscribe to our newsletter, The Tea, here

If you’re an organization wanting to partner, please email Natasha at natasha@coldteacollective.com

Wishing our Collective a fulfilling and prosperous 2020. 

Listen to our Pearls of Wisdom audio recap featuring exclusive, unheard interview clips from 2019 and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:


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People chatting at the Making It documentary screening.

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