Since its launch this spring, the UC Davis Global Tea Initiative has fostered a growing international community of tea experts, aficionados, and scholars. Directed by Katharine Burnett, Associate Professor of Art History and director of the East Asian Studies Program, the Initiative aspires to study tea in cultures around the world, strengthening the university’s growing expertise in food and drink.
“UC Davis is the only university equipped to advance interdisciplinary knowledge of tea in all its facets,” said Burnett, who recently welcomed 250 attendees to the Global Tea Initiative’s inaugural colloquium on May 12. Entitled “The Basics of Tea,” the event explored tea from a variety of perspectives, ranging from the beverage’s health benefits to its role in creating national identity in Japan. On January 19, 2017, the Initiative hosts its 2nd Annual Colloquium, “Taste, Smell, Sight, Hearing, Touch: The Sensory Aspects of Tea.” Featuring a full day of events, the colloquium will include a tea tasting at the Robert Mondavi Institute Sensory Theatre and a series of themed talks relating tea to science, technology, society, and culture.
Seeking to include undergraduates in tea research, the Initiative recently established a Global Tea Club. Ninety students attended the club’s inaugural meeting in September, a tea tasting and education event. These initial activities are helping to lay the groundwork for the Global Tea Initiative’s ambitious long-term plans, which call for endowed graduate fellowships, professorships, and colloquia—all dedicated to the world’s favorite beverage. Eventually, Burnett even hopes to build a multi-million dollar Center for Tea Culture and Science. Featuring an Asian teahouse and gardens, the Center would be located in the Arboretum, enriching the university’s sense of community and becoming a site for interdisciplinary research and exchange.
Building on the campus’s engagement with tea, this quarter the UC Davis Confucius Institute sponsored a series of “Savoring China” tea lectures and tastings. The last event of the quarter, “Oolong Tea and Its Birthplace, ” will take place on Tuesday, November 22 at 12 p.m. in Room 1207, Robert Mondavi Institute South. Click here to register.
Read more about the Global Tea Initiative at globaltea.ucdavis.edu.
–Michael Accinno, Graduate Student Researcher and Ph.D. candidate in musicology