Campus Tea House Quenches Thirst for Variety

Take a walk around campus and you’ll see a coffeehouse in almost every building. Perfect for coffee lovers, but what is there for the average tea drinker?

Wonder no longer. A new on-campus tea house opened in mid-November in 34 Ritenour and is open from 12:15 to 2:30 p.m on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  The organization is run by sophomore Jason Cohen and members of the Gongfu Cha (Chinese Tea Ceremony) club.

“The Tea House serves 14 different flavors of whole-leaf tea, which are imported from Chinese tea masters, people who specialize in brewing tea. Students trained in the traditional Chinese GongFu Cha-style brewing ceremony brew the tea.”

The tea served here is of a different caliber than what is served in coffeehouses.

“The tea you would generally get in a coffee shop, or any type of teabag tea, is pretty much what they sweep off the floor in tea factories,” Patrick Penny, the director of tea operations, said. “At the Tea House, you’re not getting tea in a cardboard or plastic cup. We’re approved brewers performing a tea ceremony for you.”

Cohen likes to stress the quality of the tea being offered by the Tea House.

“There’s a concentration on flavors. Everything makes a difference, from the quality of the tea to what water you use,” Cohen said. “It’s an art form.”

The Tea House is a non-profit organization, with some of the money going to “undergraduate research at the Tea Institute,” the research institute that houses the three clubs GongFu Cha, Chanoyu (Japanese Tea Ceremony) and Dar-ye (Korean Tea Ceremony). Once a student passes the test of whichever club they are in, they become institute members which allows them to work at the Tea House.

This goes to show that Penn State makes an effort to accommodate consumers’ discriminating tastes.

Correction 12/12/10: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the relationship between the Tea House and the Tea Institue. The information presented here is now correct.

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Michael Verbickas

I'm a Junior majoring in Print Journalism and English. I consider myself passionate about history, sports, politics, crossword puzzles and short stories.

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