I feel like spilling the tea has become such a fun phrase to initiate when you have good information to tell your friend — whether it’s about what you saw on the train that morning, or perhaps you found out that a sale is coming and you and your friend are secretly going to talk about it and demolish that sale. Haha. Whatever it is! Sitting together, sipping on a beverage, and airing your grievances or achievements is nothing new to our society. Communication is something we long for, and enjoy, and it’s obviously kept the human race alive so far.
Now. The purpose of Chai and Chat isn’t just about gossiping, although that’s one good way to do stuff. It’s about speaking, connecting, and asking questions and advice if any. It’s about creating conversation and a bond between you and the people in the room. Geeth and I have Desi backgrounds, and we come from a land where chai is literally present in all types of situations. So we figured our love for tea can be coupled with building a stronger community and being there for our residents.. We planned to do a weekly recurring Chai and Chat hour in the Office where residents can come drink some tea, talk to us about life, and go from there. Also… We were really annoyed with the prepackaged single serve tea bags from the cafeteria.
The overall list of what we needed:
Geeth and I probably went through a couple dozen pages of tea. We just couldn’t decide — until we stumbled upon the variety pack. It insured us for months of this event without it getting old and boring! Bingo 🙂
We would need to prep the tea, cups, clear out a couple of couches — and that’s it. Super minimalistic. (Have you been noticing — my events are all about very little work for the most effect!)
We would prepare a topic in advance in case it gets quiet and awkward. We would also prepare a small blurb of the tea and explain the origins and the “ideal” cooking temps.
I can’t stress enough how lucky we got with Bradley Residence Hall. The RLO (residence life office) was where everything was prepped. The couple of couches were close enough to allow residents to come into this “scary” part of the hall, and familiarize themselves with all the staff that worked at Bradley.
- Fliers! Paper fliers for each floor and bulletin boards in various lounges. The fliers had the following information:
Title: Chai & Chat
Weekly Every Wednesday
Time : 4:30pm – 5:30pm
“Chai & Chat with your favorite House Fellow and RLPA 😛 Don’t have anything to chat about — that’s okay. Come anyways — and try the variety of teas. New flavor each week”
Research on the origin of the tea leaves chosen for the week — and prep a conversation topic for the week. Something from current events or some topic a resident can benefit from..
Prepare the tea and kettle. Infuse tea a couple min before the meeting starts. Set up the cups, milk and sugar on a table by the couches.
Geeth and I put a beautiful array of cups. We kept the tea on a window sill to maximize the smell and lure people into the RLO. Also — it was great for pictures to post on the Facebook page when the event started.
A couple of people were regulars, and so we would already have some tea ready for them. Others came because they’ve never had loose leaf tea and we were their only way to access it. And of course — some people just waved in and out to say hi 🙂 . Worst case, if we had no one show up on some weeks (busy with midterms or holidays), we still had each other’s company! Plan with someone you can get along with haha!
Overall, this very minimal, hardly low-key, event created a stir in the community that it was welcoming, here to listen to comments, issues, and just enjoy a good cup of hot tea.