By: Tori Nagudi
Photos by: Marie Hoopes
Throughout my time at Georgetown, I’ve often considered myself alone in my tea obsession. Boxes of cinnamon chai, moroccan mint, and hibiscus passion dominate my shelf space originally intended for books. Mug expenses strain my wallet. Trips between Teavana and Peet’s make me feel disloyal. Fortunately, there’s now a twelve-cup program for people afflicted with my vice, and it’s called Hoya Teahouse.
Hoya Teahouse is a new club at Georgetown centered around the celebration and enjoyment of fine tea. With an emphasis on the heritage of tea, Hoya Teahouse exclusively offers traditional, loose-leaf teas. It also participates in the circuit of intercultural events, showcasing flavors from around the globe; last semester it partnered with ISA to serve pearl tea and thé vert parfumé at the Global Expo. The Chinese heritage of co-president Joseline Lu (COL ‘19) inspired her to initiate a cultural exchange and share stories through tea. I sat down with Joseline to learn about the club and get a closer look at the philosophy behind Hoya Teahouse.
Tori: Who was first inspired to start Hoya Teahouse?
Joseline: So my friend Alison Hsu (MSB ‘19) and I thought it’d be really cool to get together and start something involving tea. I knew a lot about tea and she could perform [Chinese] tea ceremonies, so we thought we could teach people a lot about about how to discern the types of tea. When we got together though, and started going through the logistics of starting a club, we realized…if we promoted it as an Asian culture club it wouldn’t be open to everyone.
T: We all like tea!
J: (Laughs) Exactly! That’s when we came in and we thought…you know, tea’s for everyone! We don’t discriminate!
J: So yeah, our club philosophy is basically just to provide a welcoming and open space for anyone; any tea drinker or enthusiast, anyone who likes to try out tea…to just to relax and unwind after a busy schedule, because you know how Georgetown is.
T: I need multiple tea breaks per day.
J: Yeah, we were actually thinking of having a little study break so people could, you know, just enjoy a little cup of tea and relax for a few minutes…and get the biggest boost of caffeine.
T: That’s so cute! So where does this actually occur?
J: So far, we just have it in a classroom; last [semester] we had it in White Gravenor.
T: Ahh, I see.
J: In the future we’ll have a tea blending competition. Blended tea is a Western element…if people are also interested in learning the tea ceremony performance we can also teach them. It’s a very kind of traditional type of thing.
Tori: That’s so interesting.
J: We have different kinds of teas too, it really caters to every audience.
T: I like that. I’ve gotten a few emails and Facebook invites…what are the events that you’ve had so far? Could you describe them?
J: Yes, we co-hosted the JNET Matsuri event…which is a Japanese festival. They invited Hoya Teahouse and we actually collaborated with the Hong Kong Student Association, so we brought the tea and we also made tea eggs together, which is sort of like a traditional Hong Kong snack.
T: That’s pretty cool.
J: Yeah! We also made Hong Kong milk tea which is a black tea with some milk and sugar. We actually had a pretty good turnout. People have been coming and asking us for tea because I guess their friends told them that they really liked the tea; it was mint and lavender oolong which is an infused tea.
T: Oh my god, I think I’d really like that!
J: Yeah we had good feedback on that one so I think we’re going to come back and feature [it again]…since people definitely liked them.
T: You could literally make money off of this. Like I’m serious, you could sell tea.
J: (Laughs) We could, yeah yeah!
J: But it felt good, because a lot of people came and asked us questions, like, ‘Oh do you have the mint tea?’ It was pretty cool to see.
T: Do you have like a list of teas that are next up?
J: Yeah. So we have this tea of the month type of thing and…we had a “guess the tea” challenge on Facebook. We basically post five clues for the next tea of the month so you guess what type of tea it is. So far we have two clues posted. April’s tea of the month was “a black tea that originated in China mainly composed of buds”, so people guessed by commenting or emailing us, and then the first person that got the correct answer received a 25 dollar Amazon gift card.
J: And then the next person got glass teacups.
T: Well that sounds cute. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like it was a success. Anything else planned?
J: One of the things we’re thinking of doing is going to real teahouses and having afternoon tea…and scones.
T: You should actually partner with the British Club and have afternoon tea because I know they have a lot of heritage when it comes to that!
J: Oooooh yeah I think that’d be really interesting.
T: I kinda wanna start a Hoya Coffeehouse now, but I wouldn’t want to compete with you.
J: (Laughs) Aww! Well you should! I wouldn’t mind!
Whether you want to learn some culinary history or just sample some new tea, be sure to check out Hoya Teahouse’s Facebook page for more information on their upcoming meetings and events!