As one of the most consumed beverages in the world, tea has grown to provide a platform for many social activities throughout centuries.
Drinking tea is not just a daily habit but also a customary ritual in many communities, particularly in the eastern side of the world. Tea for Troy is bringing this culture of social rendezvous over sips of a hot drink.
The newly found group flies under the wing of the International Students Cultural Organization (ISCO) and, in congruency with ISCO’s objectives, aims to promote cross-cultural bonding within the diverse student population present at Troy.
“Tea for Troy grew out of an activity that I had already been doing in my room,” said Taylor Foxx, a junior communication major from Montgomery, who started the group. Foxx says he often observes a disconnect between the American and the international students present on campus and feels that the gap often prolongs due to the lack of a common engagement between these diverse crowds.
“Tea drinking provides a natural avenue for closing this gap as it is almost universally associated with hospitality. This group is only the intersection of great opportunity and great need,” Foxx said.
The group has so far had two events in the last month with presentations on the tea culture of China and Tunisia.
“In our country, it is offensive to refuse tea. So if people are travelling, it is good to know these little things about other cultures,” said Abdellatif Jouini, a senior accounting major from Tunisia. Jouini.
He was the presenter at the group’s meeting last Thursday, talked about the sociocultural aspect of tea drinking in Tunisia and showed unique ways of drinking tea which included putting peanuts in the drink.
“People found it strange that we drank tea with peanuts, although it’s such a natural thing for me back home,” Jouini added, “But one of the members said she now wants to prepare tea for her father the way I did it. It makes me glad.”
In addition to informing people on the tea culture of each nation, presenters also display how to make their native tea and provide all attendees with a cup or more each and allow them to sit down in groups, converse and play games.
“For people who don’t have money and cannot travel, this is great as international students bring their country and culture straight to us,” said Travis Adams, a senior Music Education major from Elba. “It’s informative to learn about other societies and the way they do this, it’s fun.”
The group has also started its own tea shop, which includes a selection of tea collected from around the globe, and a tea cup shop, which sells designer tea cups to promote art and culture while also providing an eco-friendly alternative to foam cups.
According to Foxx, the feedback has been very overwhelming and pleasing.
“When I was sharing the idea with teachers and Troy University staff members, not only did the idea receive their approval, many of them even desired to personally participate through attending and donating supplies,” he added.
Foxx also said that the only issue they have faced has been not being able to end meetings promptly as people continue playing games, chatting and, of course, drinking tea.
The group will meet next on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in Trojan Center Room 119 with a tea presentation from Saudi Arabia. Membership for Tea for Troy is free for all ISCO members and $3 for non-ISCO members.