The Newsletter 80 Summer 2018

The Global Tea Initiative at UC Davis

Katharine P. Burnett

<p>In 2015, the University of California, Davis launched the Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science (GTI). GTI is now transitioning to become the Global Tea Institute for the Study of Tea Culture and Science. GTI is committed to producing tea research with a global perspective and supporting research on tea from anywhere in the world, in any discipline, and with any methodology.</p>

GTI’s mission is to promote the understanding of Camelia sinensis through evidence-based research. Its goals are many. They include fostering knowledge about tea through colloquia and symposia, lecture series and workshops, and through the extended efforts of research and teaching on campus and through national and international partnerships and exchange; developing a curriculum for undergrads and grads, as well as extramural courses for industry specialists and the general public. When GTI becomes an institute, we envision a dedicated building with tearooms and gardens, exhibition space for narrating the stories of tea culture and science around the world, meeting and teaching space, a sensory theater, and more. Although Camelia sinensis is the primary focus, GTI scholars acknowledge not only that many things are consumed as tea, but also many diverse tea cultures exist around the world. All merit study.

Global Tea Initiative with photograph of Tea Garden Village, Qinghai. Photograph courtesy of Zhong Zhao, Green Camel Bell NGO, China.

Students are eager for formal classes and research opportunities. Some of us are already making this possible in our home departments. This year, seven GTI members team-taught a trans-disciplinary First Year Seminar on Global Tea Culture and Science, a course aimed at new students on campus. This course is providing the basis from which to build a permanent course on Global Tea Culture and Science, and then the curricula on Global Tea Culture and Science. GTI aims to collaborate and partner with scholars, research institutes, and the tea industry nationally and internationally. With its broad mandate for research and teaching across the disciplines and from a global perspective, GTI aims to work collegially and flexibly with others, with an inclusionary attitude.

Katharine P. Burnett, Associate Professor of Art History at UC Davis, is Founding Director of UC Davis’s Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science at the University of California, Davis. Her interdisciplinary research explores how cultural values are manifested in art, what it means to collect art, and now also, what we can learn about cultures and societies through studying individual and diverse tea cultures. For more information about GTI, please contact Katharine Burnett, To inquire about supporting the program, please contact Assistant Dean Charlene A. Mattison,