Student Services Librarian
The Global Tea Initiative is a singular global phenomenon. A neutral place for multidisciplinary tea scholarship. this podcast, “Cha Chat“, is dedicated to this initiative.
About the podcast:
Erik Fausak is the primary host/editor/producer of the podcast but the guests really make the show. The podcast is recorded on the Zoom H4N and often Shure SM58 dynamic microphones are used. If there is a Skype interview, the Zoom H4N will be used with Audio Hijack (macintosh) by Rogue Amoeba. Podcast editing is done on Audacity and GarageBand. The podcast is hosted on Anchor, a free podcast hosting service that also helps distribute content to podcast platforms like Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Stitcher, RadioPublic, Castbox, and Pocket Casts.
Any accompanying video is recorded with an iPhone 6s and edited in iMovie. Content will be uploaded to AggieVideo.
The current soundtrack for the podcast was retrieved from the Free Music Archive, Tea(Asiafied by Csum) by Gastronom 22 (CC License)
Images are taken by an iPhone 6s or Canon Rebel DSLR and edited on Photoshop Express.
The logo for the Cha Chat podcast originates from an add in the late 1920s for the Dutch tea (and coffee) company, Van Nelle ((drukker: Nathaniel Lloyd & Co; opdrachtgever/adverteerder: Nathaniel Lloyd & Co. (London), Erven de Wed. J. van Nelle (Rotterdam); i.e. onbekend (unknown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons))
Sep 27, 2018
The WaterBoy or dim sum?
We met at Hong Kong Islander dim sum restaurant in Sacramento, CA. We even sat at the original table where Katharine Burnett, Axel Borg, and Darrell Corti were seated when Darrell asked the key question,
“Katharine, what I don’t understand is why doesn’t UC Davis study tea?”
This discussion in 2012 launched a multidisciplinary effort to start the Global Tea Initiative. Katharine brought in scholars in social science and art, while Axel as a post-harvest agricultural librarian brought in food scientists like Carl Keen, Ann Noble (Creator of the Wine Sensory Wheel), and Michael Lewis.
University of California, Davis is uniquely positioned to be the only multidisciplinary scholarly pursuit of tea. In the pursuit of tea, Darrell points out that California itself has a rich history in tea.
Darrell also pointed out an interesting juxtaposition where China has a burgeoning wine industry like California is beginning to develop its own tea industry. Both areas are starting to identify growth areas and terroirs, especially in a changing climate and ecology,
“If you don’t believe in weather change, all you have to do is ask a farmer.”
The Global Tea Initiative has really developed a broad scope of research and Axel recounts many diverse topics tackled by this initiative:
“Be careful what you wish for” -Darrell Corti
The global tea initiative has been so successful that they have the colloquium on Jan. 24, 2019, and helped arrange speakers for the 150th anniversary of the Wakamatsu Farm.
The vision in the next five years is the transition from Initiative to Institute. The curriculum will expand to undergraduate and graduate coursework with a brick and mortar building that would have a sensory room and exhibit space.
Darrell explained the three items that Katharine brought to their first meeting, the incense clock, oil pot/water dropper, and tea pot:
|Book Cover||Book Title/Call Number|
|Trail of Time 2005
Shields Lib TS543.E18 B43 1994
In the bustling activity of the 4th Annual Global Tea Initiative Colloquium, we found a small room to have a little conversation at the University of California at Davis Conference Center. I was joined by two speakers at the conference, Dr. Rebecca Corbett and Ryo Iwamoto. We were also privileged to be joined by Melissa Lobach of the American River Conservancy. What do they have in common? Japanese tea culture.
Ryo states a large influence to have him enter a tea house was a traditional character in the TV series “Kuitan” which translates to the “gluttonous detective” who solves crimes by contemplating and enjoying food, maybe “epicurean detective” sounds more descriptive.
This led Ryo to ask his mother to enroll him in a tea school at the age of 9 years old. He enrolled at the large tea school, Urasenke, part of a group of tea schools called Sansenke. He is finishing his final year in college at Waseda University but is already developing a business around tea, with Tea Room, Inc. a dojo of tea aimed at creating a value on tea ceremony at the corporate level.
During the morning session at the 2019 Colloquium of the Global Tea Initiative, he discusses his business, Tea Room, Inc. :
Additionally, Ryo spoke at the colloquium as Tea Culture as a treatment to a societal ill:
Rebecca joins us from University of Southern California, her research has been centered around the role of women in Japanese tea culture. Rebecca has always loved tea, initially being part of a more British tradition being raised in Australia. She did an exchange program in Japan and spent a year learning the Urasenke tradition. She became familiar with the Global Tea Initiative while doing post-doctoral Fellow at Stanford’s Center for East Asian Studies. While 90% of Japanese Tea Ceremony today are women, there is very little historical record of it. This is the focus of her book, Tea Spirit in Early Modern Japan and the 2019 Colloquium lecture. Like Ryo, Rebecca also attended the Urasenke tea school in Japan.
Below is Rebecca’s lecture on the role of women in Japanese Tea Culture:
Below are some examples of Urasenke Tea Culture in California:
Melissa Lobach is currently preparing for the sesquicentennial of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm. She points out that it is the first Japanese colony in the United States, the first Japanese burial, and site of the first Japanese-American. Melissa mentioned that she found out about the Global Tea Initiative at UC Davis through the groundskeeper at Wakamatsu. Melissa also expressed enthusiasm about Katharine’s assistance in providing speakers for the sesquicentennial celebration at Wakamatsu, which will involve many aspects of Japanese Tea Culture.
I was curious, particularly from a lecture at last year’s GTI symposium by Paul Barry, if we impose too many rules and restrictions with Japanese Tea Culture. Ryo responded that it is highly dependent on the audience. When he introduces Japanese tea culture to Americans, he may mix matcha with milk.
|Book Jacket||Book Title/Call Number
|Cultivating femininity : women and tea culture in Edo and Meiji Japan 2018
also in print
Shields Lib GT2910 .C67 2018
|Corbett, R., 2015. Crafting Identity as a Tea Practitioner in Early Modern Japan: Ōtagaki Rengetsu and Tagami Kikusha. US-Japan Women's Journal, 47(1), pp.3-27.|
|Rebecca Corbett (2009) Learning to be Graceful: Tea in Early Modern Guides for Women's Edification, Japanese Studies, 29:1, 81-94, DOI: 10.1080/10371390902780548|
|Book of Chanoyu 2016
R Channell Soei
Shields Lib GT2910 .C43 2016
|Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu 1989
PH Varley, I Kumakura
Shields Lib GT2905 .T43 1989
|Tea Life, Tea Mind 1979
Shields Lib GT2910 .S4434
|Chanoyu: The Urasenke Tradition of Tea Ceremony 1988
Shields Lib GT2912.U7 C482513 1988
|Literati modern, bunjinga from late Edo to twentieth-century Japan : the Terry Welch collection at the Honolulu Academy of Arts 2008
T Welch, P Barry, & M Michiyo
Shields Lib ND1054 .H66 2008
Honolulu Museum of Art
I met with Lydia and Tait of the Global Tea Club at Hutchison Hall Rm 50 at UC Davis. This is the site of the e-Learning studio created by ATS. There we sat at the podcasting studio to discuss the Global Tea Club. Lydia is the current president of the Global Tea Club and Tait was the first president of the Global Tea Club. Lydia was with the tea club since the beginning and found inspiration in a mutual interest of the topic of labor inequality and her academic interest. Tea has always been of cultural importance to her because she is Taiwanese. Tait and his family in Kansas enjoyed tea and the way they stay connected. After introductions, Tait started discussing how the Global Tea Club formed. Tait utilized his own resources to get the tea club started, including bulk tea he purchased in LA from Wing Hop Fung. Tait also created his own pottery for the club at UC Davis’ Ceramics Studio which has a great kiln and wheels with many glazes which is accessible with a quarter (3 month) pass. Tait’s pottery has also been commercially successful by selling his pottery at local tea shops.
The origin of the Global Tea Club began at the request of the Global Tea Initiative to pursue tea in areas the Initiative did not. They had a great deal of feedback with requests to join, and wound up with a regular group of six. They teamed up with graduate students in the program to answer a lot of health questions about tea. Particularly, one graduate student was very helpful and was doing her own research on colon cancer rates and tea consumption as well as looking at the role of tea in the microbiome of the gut. The 4th colloquium of the Global Tea Initiative in 2019 had a lecture from Dr. Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan:
Tait went on to discuss how the Global Tea Club then started tackling issues outside of the current bandwidth of the Global Tea Initiative by starting a discussion on labor inequality. They also provided tea after the defacement of the mosque in Davis, CA, during a rally to support the mosque in 2017.
Tait and Lydia discussed how the tea club has had quite a few successful efforts including setting up pop-up exhibits in the Arboretum and a lecture series started in 2017 called, “Tea and Conversations” which has been successful and still going. The attendance of these events had many from the community as well as students. These tea events can get 150 – 200 people coming through their exhibit. Tait started by paying out of pocket and getting a discount at Tea Cozy to buy tea for the club. Lydia says that the Global Tea Club continues to get financial support and tea from a number of donors. The events keep coming and getting planned which include painting tea cups, and more events at locations on campus.
We then discussed the making of tea, is there a right way? Tait and Lydia discussed that there is a lot of education still needed in how to prepare tea, and expectations of how tea should taste.
Global Tea Club events:
We got a sample of the types of discussions in the Global Tea Club when discussing labor issues in the field. Tait then discussed his interest in looking at tea and labor worldwide. Tait stated that the Fair Trade labels on tea are most likely not representative of fair treatment of laborers and suggested purchasing machine cut tea. Below is a video from 2018 that discusses the labor shortage in the tea industry:
Lydia felt that with improvement of labor treatment and this becoming an avenue for women to have empowerment in many countries, hand-picked tea should be purchased to support those laborers. This was a small piece of a larger and very interesting debate. While Tait and Lydia were speaking specifically of Taiwan, Debarati Sen discussed this very topic in context of India:
Attached is a small collection of readings on labor and tea available at the UC Davis Shields Library:
|Book Jacket||Title and Call Number||Book Jacket||Title and Call Number|
|The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India (2014)|
Also in Print
Shields Lib HD9198.I43 D3733 2013
|Taiwan: The Culture of Tea 2011
Shields Lib Media DS799.24 .T35 2011 DVD
|Bonded Labor: tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia 2012|
Shields HD4875.S567 K37 2012
|Flip the Coin: The Bitter Taste of Tea 2009
Shields Lib Media
HD9198.A2 F55 2009 DVD
|Everyday Sustainability: Gender Justice and Fair Trade Tea in Darjeeling 2017|
Also in Print
Shields Lib HD6073.T182 I474 2017
|Science of Tea Technology 2013
Shields Lib SB272.I4 S35 2013
The Global Tea Club has been very successful at creating a new avenue of pursuing tea interest and has many interesting new avenues to explore. They continue to have great speakers lined up like representatives from Peet’s Coffee and Mighty Leaf and Mike Fritz who is a local grower (but couldn’t attend due to the fires that really damaged his tea farm).
We all entered Harold’s Immersive Tea Space together and the impact was immediate. Everyone automatically relaxed and enjoyed their surroundings.
We all introduced ourselves:
Thiago Braga, Graduate student in Anthropology at UC Davis has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a Master of Laws degree in Chinese Studies from Peking University. He spend time in the Yunnan province where he received a “crash course” in the tea industry and became fascinated with the concept of , “Fake tea”. His example is the current attitudes surrounding Pu’er tea. He has come to appreciate that tea is not necessarily about the substance itself, but the ritual that surrounds it and that tea becomes more of a spiritual practice. He enjoys engaging in tea as a participant observer.
Harold Linde is in his first year of the MFA program for Design. He created the space that we are currently enjoying in the podcast and has an interest in spreading this aspect of tea culture in the United States. “In a past life”, he was an environmental activist focusing on ancient forests. He is interested in the symbiotic relationship of tea and humanity, where we don’t harm the tea trees and have a direct relationship with these plants. Harold also comes from a background of Spiritual Psychology.
After we introduced ourselves, Thiago suggested that Harold should add cultural mediator as a term to describe himself. Thiago went on to ask where the immersive experience occurs? Harold answered by clarifying, “I am not highly skilled in serving tea”, but he is this way intentionally. He sees the serving of tea as a shared experience and about that experience, not necessarily the ritual. He cited an example of how sometimes, ceremony can be an impediment to the experience of sharing with people. He then quietly said, “What I’m most concerned about is you.”
Thiago raised another question, “Are we immersing ourselves in tea or immersing ourselves in the process or image of tea?” Harold responded by the role of tea as a psychotropic medicine. That the immersion is in a metaphysical space to be enjoyed by ourselves or together,
[tea] is a friendly, benevolent plant
Thiago then added “We are beings of things”, through engaging with tea and thinking of it as a plant, tea is also speaking to us. He discusses the idea of a plant-animal bond and how both affect each other (a topic we picked up later in the podcast after he left). Thiago challenged us by asking, “Are the ideas we have with these substances our own or not?” . Thiago ended his thought that we have to,
Think of Human-ing as a verb
Harold thought about this and pointed out that our own existence is based on so many other lifeforms, like the microbiome of the gut. Below is a video from the 2019 GTI colloquium where the microbiome of people and tea’s role is discussed by Dr. Yvonne Wong,
Thiago went on to discuss how like dogs and humans, tea has been affecting our species,
We’ve been shaping each other as biological bodies
Thiago had to run but we then went on to discuss the aesthetic of tea and how we identify ourselves with tea. Harold stated that he wears a “uniform” of denim, because it is from cotton which is internationally utilized, highly functional, and unassuming. We discussed that sometimes tea can become too esoteric. He stated
I still drink tea out of a teabag. I enjoy it the way people in this country enjoy it.
The conversation then moved to discuss authenticity versus tradition, where something can be truly authentic without being traditional.
Harold has some great description and images of the space on this website.
|Book Jacket||Title and Call Number||Book Jacket||Title and Call Number|
|Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic 2014|
also in print
Shields Lib GT2907.C6 Z4366 2014
|How to Change your Mind 2018
Shield Lib RM324.8 .P65 2018
|Zhang, L., 2016. A Foreign Infusion: The Forgotten Legacy of Japanese Chadō on Modern Chinese Tea Arts. Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, 16(1), pp.53-62||Lawrence Zhang's Blog On tea culture http://www.marshaln.com/|
|Erik Axelsson, Abhirami Ratnakumar, Maja-Louise Arendt, Khurram Maqbool, Matthew T. Webster, Michele Perloski, . . . Kerstin Lindblad-Toh. (2013). The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature, 495(7441), 360-364.|
8 July 2020 Recorded via Zoom
Matthew Maekawa graduated recently with a food sciences degree. He learned about tea during his internship at QTrade Teas and found the delightful complexities of tea.
Manjiv Jayakumar is the chief executive of QTrade Teas which was started by his father. Tea was a large part of his life and grew up with tea in Sri Lanka.
Matthew found this opportunity by “accident”, but matched the direction he wanted to go in. He liked food and he likes science. His coursework included biology, chemistry and even physics.
Matthew had the opportunity to do two internships at QTrade in Winter and Summer. He looked at the density and cutting sizes of teas. There are “thousands and thousands of different kinds of teas”.
Cutting size effects extraction of tea and how much goes into a satchet.
Manjiv introduces QTrade tea which provides services to other specialty tea brands. They are a support for other tea companies, that primarily involves Camellia sinensis (tea). They focus on blending and packaging of tea in satchets. Their internship programs started at Chapman University about six years ago and many students wanted to continue their research. Global Tea Initiative was another point of access to these students, particularly the student tea club.
“Interns are a source of energy and enthusiasm and secondly, potentially, a source of employees” – Manjiv Jayakumar
Matthew is currently working with QTrade.
When asked how he would do it better, he said do internships sooner in his undergraduate career. He would have focused and built more on chemistry and he definitely kept his old notes.
Manjiv seeing the path of tea opportunities,
“we are very optimistic about the future of the tea industry”. How tea is consumed and experienced is changing a lot. Boba tea is an example of a trend that leads to a mainstream venue.
Manjiv sees primarily four paths of opportunity in tea:
Research and Development (R & D) –
“A Food Science background really helps as you become an “architect of a product”
This product centers around sensory experience but includes other aspects of marketing including safety and sustainability.
Quality – focused on food safety and regulatory compliance.
Purchasing – Becoming a purchaser or tea-buyer. Q-trade has someone with 30-35 years of experience. He spent some of that time in Yunnan having close to 1200 cups of tea a day. You have to match sensory to market conditions. It is almost an apprenticeship process.
Operational – Centered around the production and process of tea.
Matt’s favorite part is formulating new products. Trying to get the best product out there.
Manjiv says innovation has been occurring over the last 10-15 years, particularly in packaging and blending. Marketing of tea has also become different, like appreciation of L-theanine (found in tea) and isolating it as a supplement.
We discussed how the tea market has changed. Fewer but well-funded companies are emerging in the tea industry raising the bar of success.
Matthew closes with this advice: in an internship, if you are given a task, understand more about what is behind it. Keeping a good connection with the companies you are working with or have worked with is also very important.
Manjiv said everyone has a special spot for interns and if the intern has demonstrated enthusiasm and dependability, they will get more and more potential work or opportunities.
Find out more about QTrade Teas!
Watch a video on the “day in the life of a tea intern”:
Read more about food science and tea at the UC Davis Library:
|Book Jacket||Title and Call Number||Book Jacket||Title and Call Number|
|Tasting Qualities : The past and Future of Tea. (2020)|
|Tea Blending as a Fine Art (1896)
Shields Special Collections
SB271 .W23 1896b
|International Conference on Food Science Technology (1999)|
|Food Chemistry (2009)
H Belitz. W. Grosch & P. Schiebierle
Coffee, Tea, Cocoa
|Handbook of Research on Food Science and Technology. Volume 1, Food Technology and Chemistry (2018). |
M Chavez-Gonzalez, C Aguilar & JJ Buenrostro-Figueroa.
|Global tea science (2018)
VS Sharma & K Gunasekare
Today we talk with Leyla Cabugos and Daniel Goldstein, librarians in Researcher Services at University of California, Davis. Both Leyla and Dan curated an exhibit of books at Shields Library called, “Drink your tea”. Erik, the host, also curated an exhibit at Carlson Health Sciences Library on tea and wine in the health literature called, “Quest for the Panacea of Beverages”. These exhibits were done in conjunction with the 5th GTI Colloquium, “The Great Debate: Discussions on Wine and Tea”.
The exhibit, “Drink your tea” was inspired by the rufous-sided Towhee bird, whose call sounds like, “drink your tea”. Click the player below to hear its call.
We discuss the breadth and multidisciplinary nature of researching tea which is well represented by the exhibit Dan and Leyla created. This exhibit included many books covering a broad range of topics on tea and wine. Erik discussed looking at the health sciences literature on tea and wine. Erik emphasized an interest in the role of tea and wellness, which is a topic of increasing importance in Veterinary Medicine. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has a great program on site that looks at wellness at the Career, Leadership and Wellness Center.
Check out this video created by Christine Cheng, Outreach and Instructional librarian at the UC Davis Special Collections and Archives.
A sample of books relating to tea from the “Drink your tea” and “Search for the Panacea of Beverages” exhibits:
|Global Tea Breeding : Achievements, Challenges and Perspectives. (2012)|
L Chen, Z Apostolides & Z Chen
Shields Lib SB271 .G56 2012
|Cha Pu. 第1版 (2007)
Shields Lib GT2907.C6 C46533 2007
|Cultivating Femininity : Women and Tea Culture in Edo and Meiji Japan. (2018)|
Shields Lib GT2910 .C67 2018
|Chigusa and the Art of Tea. (2014)
Shields Lib NK4695.S76 C49 2014
|Organic Tea : Cultivation and Marketing (2006).|
Shields Lib SB272.I5 G46 2006
|Tea : History, Terroirs, Varieties. (2018).
K Gascoyne, H Americi, J Desharnais, F Marchand, & Camellia Sinensis Tea House.
Shields Lib TX415 .G3713 2018
|Tea : A Potted History of Tea in New Zealand. (2006)|
Shields Lib GT2907.N45 G654 2006
|The Tea Lords. (2011)
Shields Lib PT5838.H45 H4713 2011
|Tocklai & Tea : --as the Road Fades Away. (2011).|
M Hazarika, M Talukdar, SH Patgiri
Shields Lib HD9198.I4 .T63 2011
|The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook : A Guide to Enjoying the World’s Best Teas (2010).
ML & R Heiss
Shields Lib TX415 .H438 2010
|The Rise of Tea Culture in China : The Invention of the Individual. (2015)|
Shields Lib GT2907.C6 H55 2015
|Das Geheimnis Des Tees (2009)
H Hu & C Steenberg
Shields Lib GT2905 .H8 2009
|Tea and Tourism : Tourists, Traditions and Transformations. (2007)|
Shields Lib GT2905 .T413 2007
|Tea Manufacture in South India (1937)
Shields Lib TP650 .J65
|Ancillary Justice (2013)|
Shields Lib PS3612.E3353 A83 2013
|Bian Yin Zhongguo Cha. 第1版. ed. (2013)
GT2907.C6 L523 2013
|Homegrown tea : an illustrated guide to planting, harvesting, and blending teas and tisanes (2014)|
Shields Lib SB271 .L66 2014
|Race, Tea and Colonial Resettlement : Imperial Families, Interrupted. (2017)
Shields Lib DS430 .M35 2017
|The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm and the Creation of Japanese America (2019)|
Shields Lib F870.J3 M48 2019
|Tea Culture of Japan (2009)
Shields Lib GT2910 .O39 2009
|DIY kombucha : sparkling homebrews made easy(2018)|
Shields Lib TP650 .P68 2018
|New Tea Lover’s Treasury. (1999)
Shields Lib TX415 .P68 1995
|A taste of bitterness : the political economy of tea plantations in Sri Lanka (1986)|
Shields Lib HD9198.C42 R6 1986
|The Japanese tea ceremony : Cha-no-yu and Zen art of mindfulness. (2019)
Shields Lib GT2910 .S3 2019
|Everyday Sustainability : Gender Justice and Fair Trade Tea in Darjeeling. (2017)|
Shields Lib HD6073.T182 I474 2017
|World atlas of tea : from the leaf to the cup, the world's teas explored and enjoyed. (2016)
Shields Lib GT2905 .S65 2016
|Hand-Book of Castes and Tribes Employed on Tea Estates in North-East India. (1924)|
Tea Districts Labour Association
Shields Lib DS422.C3 T4 1924
|500 teapots : contemporary explorations of a timeless design. (2002)
NK4695.T43 A14 2002
|Korean Tea Classics (2010)|
Shields Lib GT2907.K6 Y56 2010
|Dong Yang Cha Wen Hua. (2016)
Shields Lib GT2907.C6 D664 2016
We are pleased to announce that we have two short Cha Chat bonus episodes that take you through a guided mindful tea meditation. For more information on this project, please visit our mindfulness tea meditation subject guide.
The first is the simplest approach and only requires hot water, tea and a bowl
The second podcast is an approach if you have a tea set, tea and hot water:
We are joined today by Mindfulness educator, Denise Dempsey, therapist, Zoe Peralta-Page, and undergraduate student, Gabby Tirsell. Together they have created a mindfulness project revolving around tea and designed to be incorporated into daily practice. Zoe developed a mindful tea exercise while in Graduate school at University of Washington and this project was developed to address the needs of the veterinary community and the risk of burn out in the profession. The idea is that this tea meditation can be applied universally, as well.
Denise has always enjoyed tea and found it to be enjoyed contemplatively in her life. She has developed a professional interest in tea as it represents an opportunity for daily mindfulness.
Zoe enjoyed Liptons but her eyes were opened to a larger world of tea on a trip to China. As her passion for tea grew, she found an opportunity to meet with Dr. Katharine Burnett of the Global Tea Initiative at the North Western Tea Festival. She decided to make tea the centerpiece for her graduate research project. She met Erik through the Global Tea Scholars Network developed by the Global Tea Initiative.
Gabby has always enjoyed tea growing up Japanese Buddhist. In middle school, she observed a Japanese tea ceremony and realized that tea is more than a beverage. Gabby met Erik in her First Year Seminar, “Global Tea Culture and Science”.
Erik discovered tea in high school because coffee was too hard on him. In the last six years he got into gong fu and has become obsessed with tea. Erik is professionally interested in tea for mindfulness and specifically, as a tool to address burnout in the veterinary profession. This is ideal because it only takes five minutes.
To understand the tea meditation, please look at our how to infograph, podcast, or video. Erik asked the question, “What have you or what do you hope others will get out of this tea mindfulness meditation?”
Denise started by saying tea has an inherent nature of contemplation. If she is having a busy day, there is something about tea near her that gives pause despite its energetic properties.
“For students, this is a tangible time out, a sanctioned break”. – Denise Dempsey
The warmth of the cup, the beautiful tea colors, it could be a lovely break. Despite this as a formal practice, it may carry over to daily life with tea or mindful eating. Denise sees mindfulness carry over into many aspects of her daily life.
Zoe starts out with the fact she has anxious moments and it gives her three minutes before going onto the next thing.
“You just need a few minutes for self-care and it doesn’t have to be this perfect thing”. – Zoe Peralta-Page
Gabby says as a student and for people on the go she has not enjoyed meditation in the past. As a Buddhist she had to do it but now incorporating tea, she came to realize that it is something she can enjoy. She hopes students will find enjoyment with it. Gabby points out there are many meditations that involve tea.
Erik says tea and mindfulness wasn’t a mistake because of its long history in Buddhism. The L-theanine and caffeine in tea are unique chemically that it calms and allows focus unlike other caffeinated beverages. Erik has learned from this the idea of equinimity where hard times make better people and to treat triumph and disaster the same. He sees a connection with tea, because the best teas are made with hardships of environment, altitude and pests.
What are your parting thoughts?
We offer tea meditations on a weekly basis here.
Denise feels this is a creative way to bring mindfulness into the university environment. It is about self-care which we need to make a priority. There is potential for this to benefit many people. It can influence how people think about tea and mindfulness.
Zoe said this doesn’t have to be perfect but take a little time for self-care and check in. If you can’t meditate, reach out to some friends.
“No matter what it is, find a way to do self-care.” – Gabby Tirsell
Here is a video of a mindful tea meditation in practice with teaware #Take5fortea
|Mindfulness meditations for stress : 100 simple practices to ease tension and find peace (2020)|
Shields Lib RC489.M55 D46 2020
|Coping with stress and burnout as a veterinarian : an evidence-based solution to increase well-being (2019)
Carlson Lib SF 756.28 H219c 2019
|Touching the earth 46 guided meditations for mindfulness practice (2008)|
T Nhá̂t Hạnh
|Becoming a Reflective Librarian and Teacher : Strategies for Mindful Academic Practice (2016)
|Global Tea Hut: Tea and Tao Magazine|
and this specific issue is a good example of discussing tea and mindfulness.
|Narrative Medicine in Veterinary Practice (2021)
|Creating Wellbeing and Building Resilience in the Veterinary Profession (2022)|
|Mindfulness and you: being present in nursing practice 2014
Dr. Erika Rappaport, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara
Started her relationship with tea while writing her book and has benefitted since writing the book with people sending her quality teas from all over the world. As Erika Rappaport was doing research on empire, tea became a natural area of study and became its own book.
Bethany Qualls, PhD candidate in English Literature at University of California, Davis
Bethany was always a tea drinker and enjoyed tea at Mariage Freres in Paris. In San Francisco, she had a roommate that was a professional chef and tea drinker with a tea pot and resteep tea. Bethany is still looking for a great travel set.
Erika discusses her journey into the archives of the British Library to discover a large collection that was about the British growing and selling of tea including journeys into the United States. In the 19th century tea was in decline in the United States and accounts suggested they didn’t know how to make tea. Tea was a great opportunity to explore “Britishness” from a global perspective and gender of tea.
Bethany explores gossip in the 18th century and how it functions in England. She did research at the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University. She dug into the large engravings and looked for anything tagged “gossip” and “tea table” because they go hand in hand. She is thinking of print culture as not just words, but engravings and other published content. She was starting one chapter that evolved into four chapters looking at the coffee house, the tea table, the brothel and the pall mall. Bethany said it is shocking how much of British literature centers around tea as a cultural signifier of British empire.
Erika asked Bethany how she examines tea tables, as a physical item or more symbolic. Bethany said the tea table is a metonym for gossip, but it is heterogenous, but women are in charge of the tea table. Men and women are at the tea table.
“gossip and news are basically the same thing, but who has the power there?”
Bethany went on to describe tea tables having legs attached to them to increase the height. Erika liked Bethany’s linkage of gossip and news. Erika mentioned the idea of tea table and gossip and mentioned a South African Paper in the 1930s that centered around the tea table discussing gossip and selling Western commodities. Bethany went on to say that the tea table was the place to sell print, as well, to give tea tables “something to talk about”.
Erika said tea suffered from anti-British sentiment in the 19th century and was associated with the feminine. This image hurt tea’s reputation despite marketing attempts to the contrary.
“They did hit on a strategy which was to invent iced tea. Take it out of the tea pot and away from the tea table … and remove the material culture that represented Britain.”
Erik asked what defines a tea table? It is a tray that comes on top of another table or may just be a table on its own. Furniture makers would add longer legs to tea tables because they were meant to be consumed closer to the ground. Erika mentioned they were always smaller and getting knocked over. Erika and Bethany discussed the knocking over of tea tables to represent upheaval like difficulties in marriage. The tea table is this embodiment of stability and “culture” that upheaval is embodied by the tables being knocked over.
A gallery of tea tables:
Bethany helped dispel the myth of spilling tea is not about tea but telling the truth and originates with the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in 1994. Erika mentioned that tea has gone down significantly since the 1950s but Erika said that tea declines with changes in societal affluence and generational rebellion.
Check out this video describing an 18th century engraving with tea tables, narrated by Bethany Qualls:
|A thirst for empire: how tea shaped the modern world (2017)|
Shields Lib GT2905.R26 2017
|The harlot's progress Founded upon Mr. Hogarth's six paintings (1739)
Our guest bios:
Nina Fontana is a member of the inaugural 2021-2022 “Future of Fire” cohort in the CASCNetwork Climate Adaptation Postdoctoral Fellows Program. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis in collaboration with the USGS Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center.
Using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, Nina’s research centers on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in forest-dependent communities in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, specifically how TEK nurtures cultural ties to landscape, maintains health of communities, and informs adaptive capacity in supporting regional food sovereignty. Her broader research interests include socio-ecological resilience, translational ecology, Indigenous analysis of climate change, and environmental justice. Nina received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis. Additionally, with 15 years of teaching in both secondary and postsecondary settings, international and nationally, Nina is committed to fostering creativity, inquiry, and critical thinking, both in and out of the classroom. Her current research explores: 1) strategies to address multi-scalar policy barriers and opportunities to implement Indigenous-led traditional burning across land jurisdictions and ecosystems, and 2) the various scales in which Indigenous cultural burning may be applied to address climate change in Southwest ecosystems.
Nadia Tarnawsky has been studying Eastern European singing techniques for over three decades. She spent much of 2017 and 2018 in Ukraine as a recipient of a Fulbright award. She has taught Ukrainian village style singing in workshops for the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York city, Village Harmony in Vermont and Oregon, the Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble in San Francisco, and the Dunava Ensemble in Seattle among others. In 2011 she received a Traditional Arts Fellowship from Artist Trust and an Artist Support Residency from Jack Straw Productions. In 2002 she received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship which allowed her to travel to Ukraine to collect folk songs and folklore. She sang under the tutelage of Yevgeny Yefremov with Ensemble Hilka of New York in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster in Ukraine. A recording of this repertoire was released on the Smithsonian Folkways label.
Our podcast starts with identifying tea cultures exist outside of cultures we may traditionally associate with “tea culture”. This podcast discusses the Hutzul communities in the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine and how tea is a way of life and the direct connect of the community with their environment by using local herbs and fruits like mulberry or hawthorn.
Nina and Nadia both discovered teas and tisanes in a medicinal role, they later came to enjoy teas for flavor and recognized
“tea as a great connector among people”
Nadia professionally recognizes tea as a singer and “tea is the rosin for my bow”
The Global Tea Initiative embraces teas and tisanes (infusions that are not strictly Camellia sinensis)
Nina suggest two tea cultures exist in Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains (made of very diverse cultures and ethnographic groups) and specifically in context of the Hutsul populations:
Nadia relates a story of having a cold in Ukraine and being told to try a black radish filled with honey to address the illness. Nina mentioned common blends would include bilberry often mixed with local ingredients like lemon balm, raspberry leaves, yarrow, rosehips or wild thyme.
“If you were to really take a look at the ecosystem you would understand how deeply connected personal health is to the ecosystem…”
A snapshot of daily life, Nadia relates a unique time which is around Christmas, Jan. 6 – 19th where there is perpetual feast and songs all the way through midnight and music rising through the mountain. Nadia recalled enjoying this time of quiet with tea hearing the music in the distance from a candlelit cemetery.
While Nina stayed, it is very rare for anyone to be by themselves, everyone knows each other in the community. Music and socializing is a big piece of the community. Nadia mentioned tourism is a big industry in the area and they were doing
“Air BnB before Air BnB was around… There was always tea involved.”
“At the end of your day you would have your tea and go out in the mountains to hear people make music”.
Nina focused less on music but on how different cultural groups steward their forest and looking at different impacts like pollution, immigration and other factors. Focused not just on the region, but the people as well. Nadia pointed out that the middle generation often leave Ukraine to find work and use Euro-tending countries to help support families in Ukraine.
There is a carpathian bee specific to the area, and honey is a big deal, but teas are not overly honeyed (and it is self-regulated) compared to bubble tea.
Discussion continued about how tea culture has been impacted by more recent events. First, Covid-19, which the community was mostly protected by geographical isolation despite being a population with very little social distance in everyday interactions. One of the bigger challenges was transit and storage of vaccines for these communities.
Of more recent events, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. How does war and turmoil effect these communities and ecology? Large impact is the influx of populations coming through to escape the war. This isn’t considered a burden in these communities because there is a kindred spirit, or need, to help their own people. An important point is that Ukraine has weathered so much war and destruction. Nina and Nadia worked right along the WW2 Russian front in this carpathian community in Ukraine. Nadia related a story of an 85 year old woman that has helped her with music saying this has happened before and hoped it wouldn’t happen again, but they’ll make it through this, too. Nadia also related the profound nature of a photo in the New York Times where amongst the devastation is the WW2 memorial where Ukraine faced similar devastation. Nina closed with:
“They’re still going to be drinking tea, because that’s what we do. Tea is part of healing as well”
Nadia pointed out that for support packages, tea is always on the list. Nadia and Nina both recommend for those that want to donate to Ukraine communities during this time of war, can donate to World Central Kitchen
Nina’s point of clarification:
Moss vs. Lichen: Icelandic moss is really a lichen. In the video, Nina says that this moss isn’t a plant. What she means is that Icelandic Moss is a misnomer and it is in fact a lichen! Icelandic moss isn’t a moss and therefore isn’t a plant since lichens are not plants. Lichens are a symbiotic partnership of two organisms: a fungus and an algae.
Music for this podcast:
“I’ll admit as a host of this podcast, I enjoy learning about the science and culture of tea along with the listener. In this podcast I admit that I neglected my duty as a host by not performing due diligence and not realizing that there is a profound difference in meaning when saying Ukraine versus the Ukraine, in my ignorance, I thought the two as the same like United States and the United States. I was terribly wrong and chagrined to admit that I was saying the Ukraine. This has not been an acceptable practice since 1991 and saying “The Ukraine” is representative of imperialism and hegemony of the Soviet Union. That term infringes on Ukraine’s sovereignty which it is currently fighting so hard to retain. Words we use are extremely important, and while I made sure to do Post-hoc editing of any reference I made to “the Ukraine” so as not to take away from the important discussion in the podcast, I believe it is also important to acknowledge we all make mistakes, and when it comes to labelling or using inappropriate references to nations, ethnicities or people, the most important thing is to realize our words matter and if they negatively affect anyone, to acknowledge this, stop the practice and try to do better. I can’t thank Nina and Nadia enough for their courage and kindness in teaching me the negative impact of using the wrong name for Ukraine and their trust for knowing I would not have desired to offend them or Ukrainians around the world. On that note, I wanted to share my learning experience and also have an opportunity to share more of Nadia’s fantastic music!”
For reading interest:
New York Times