Cozy cup of culture: Tea Society promotes relaxation, spotlights regional teas


The College of William and Mary is host to a multitude of unique and interesting clubs, one of which is the William and Mary Tea Society. Members of the Tea Society come together once a week on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Students are free to bring their own mugs and indulge in one of the many flavors of tea that are provided for them as they relax, listen to music and chat. 

“I think it fills a niche,” Tea Society Secretary Al Tran ’24 said. “There are clubs that are for a career, clubs where you are active and there are clubs you just do because you love it, and tea is something that can connect with a lot of people.” 

The club is an interest group for those who enjoy brewing, drinking and learning about tea, but it also serves as a place for people to come together and relax after a long day. Tea Society Member Vanessa Ma ’24 reflected that a space like Tea Society where people are able to relax for a time is important for students at the College, a notoriously academically rigorous school. 

“On our busy campus, I think Tea Society gives students a much-needed break to wind down,” Ma said in an email. “Tea Society is very laid-back and is just as they say: an opportunity to grab a cup of tea. Meetings are very casual and people can come and go as they please.” 

The club was founded about five years ago and was doing well before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, membership diminished greatly. However, former and current leaders of the Tea Society have spent the last few years trying to revitalize the club, bringing in new members and doing events to generate interest and expand the club. 

“My really good friend Joey, who was president last year, wanted to revitalize it, and he did a really fantastic job, and I was lucky enough to take it over,” Tea Society President Aisling Ringrose ’24 said. 

Outside of its weekly meetings, Tea Society also hosts occasional special events, including organized boba trips, purchasing tea from specialty shops and social events and tea parties with other organizations on campus. Most recently, the Tea Society collaborated with the Vietnamese Student Association to host a Vietnamese tea party. 

“There are a lot of different tea cultures,” Tran said. “It’s just an opportunity to learn about different types of teas and different cultures that you didn’t really know much about. I’m Vietnamese so I knew about Vietnamese tea, but that was an opportunity to show other people what my culture was.”

At the Vietnamese Tea Party, members of VSA joined the Tea Society and gave a presentation on Vietnamese tea culture and Vietnam’s relationship with tea. VSA also shared recipes as part of a themed tea tasting. The tasting included selections such as Hanoi lime iced tea, Saigon cinnamon tea, lotus tea and jasmine pearl tea. 

 “An important part of many tea cultures is socialization and how a warm pot of tea brings people together,” Ma said. “There’s a Vietnamese saying that basically translates to how the tea, water and teapot are just as important as the people you share it with. Tea is a shared experience that people can connect with and transcends culture. Trying different teas allows people to experience a new world.” 

In the future, the Tea Society is hoping that it can work with more cultural groups across campus. With a few plans already in the works, it is looking to expand its reach and bring attention to not only itself, but also to other cultural groups on campus. Ringrose shared how there are many ways in which different cultures can be shared, including through drinks and conversation like in Tea Society. 

“I wanted to do cultural stuff because we haven’t done any of that in the past and I think that maybe it’s something we should have done earlier,” Ringrose said. “I know it was just getting the club started, but I’m glad we’re starting off on it now, because tea is such a cultural thing and tea is not just an American thing or just a British thing or even an Irish thing. It’s very old and it’s very sacred to many cultures.” 

As the Tea Society continues to grow its membership and take on new opportunities, it encourages students to stop by to relax, meet new people and learn more about tea and its culture. 

“Our room is open,” Ringrose said. “You’re welcome to swing by and we’ll give you some tea.”



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