In 2019, Tea Arts & Culture (TAC) began as a gathering of friends and tea lovers to enjoy nature and tea in the park. Compelled to respond to the rapidly shifting world during the start of the pandemic, they committed to using tea arts and culture to nurture community and belonging in the face of isolation by establishing themselves as a non-profit organization.
Now 4 years later, the organization supports communities through tea-centered events and programming across four NYC boroughs. In 2022 alone, they have served nearly 2,000 community members, mobilized more than 80 volunteers, and organized 26 public community events.
Bonavita is proud to support Tea Arts & Culture on their Golden Tea Program to bring tea to seniors in the community. The Bonavita kettles are a way to help them continue their learned tea practice with one another. We had a chance to catch up with Enmy Uribe, Tea & Arts Culture Community Outreach Specialist, to learn more about tea's ability to bring individuals together, and what they have planned for this year and beyond.
Bonavita: Tell us a little bit about how Tea Arts & Culture started and what was the inspiration behind it?
Uribe: TAC started in the post pandemic world. Our tag “Connections through Tea” say it all. We use tea as a medium to get people and communities to come together and experience beauty all around. It doesn’t matter where you're from, your experiences or what you believe. The importance is that we find common ground and joy in the small things. Differences can easily keep us apart, but shared experiences can always connect us to the bigger picture.
What is the impact you want to have on the community you support?
Uribe: The impact we would like to have is what we would like to see for the world. If we are lucky, each cup of tea shared is an experience that people can take home with them. Maybe they will choose to make a cup for themselves or even for another. Through these cultivated practices, we can learn how to be together and how to give ourselves and others space. Tea, like many other things, is a language; once we learn it we can use it to communicate our stories, ourselves and connect with others. We want to encourage conversation and create togetherness.
What do you enjoy most about the work the organization does?
Uribe: The most enjoyable thing about TAC is the community that we create. Not all of us have been tea drinkers that long, some of us connected to the work through experiencing the interconnection created with a cup of tea at hand and an open heart. Other more avid tea drinkers get to do what they love, and experience the nuance in tea with like-minded individuals.
Can you tell us about the work you are doing with Bonavita?
Uribe: Tea Arts and Culture has a program called Golden Tea. The premise of this program is to bring tea to seniors in the community. In conjunction with tea practices, we also include a cultural or artistic element such as Ikebana flower arrangements, poetry and even ceramics. These elements help connect seniors to their five senses— not only in creating mindfulness practices, but also many studies suggest that the connection to our senses at all ages slows mental and physical decline.
What other projects is Tea Arts & Culture working on that you would love people to know about?
Uribe: We have a number of ways that we interact with the community— the first being through the Nature Tea Program which is how we began, the second through our Community Garden events, and lastly, our Tea Mentorships. We partner with community gardens all over NYC and create an experience for the public that is free and cultural. Our mentorship program allows us to partner with organizations such as Greenthumb in NYC to teach the history, art of tea and other tea practices. This mentorship program opens the door to many people and organizations who are continuing our work in the community.