A source of tasty treats and a place to unwind, Tea brings students, faculty, and staff of all Houses together.
Harvard College consists of twelve residential Houses, into which all students are sorted at the beginning of sophomore year. Each House has its own community, and many have their own unique traditions or events. For example, the quirky Kirkland Choosening, a weekly Sunday night event in which a new “theme” for the week is chosen (which Kirkland residents represent with photos on social media, costumes, or props), or the infamous Eliot Fête, a glitzy formal that takes place every spring. However, as a proud resident of Lowell House (or Lowellian), I think the best Harvard house tradition is Lowell House Tea. A source of tasty treats and a place to unwind, Tea brings students, faculty, and staff of all Houses together.
A longstanding Lowell tradition that dates back to the first decade of the House’s existence, Lowell House Tea consists of a weekly afternoon tea held in the Lowell courtyard (previously held in the Faculty Deans’ residence). Students flock from all Houses to eat freshly-baked confections from historic silver platters (yes, really!) and drink hot tea, which is served by Faculty Deans Nina Zipser and David Laibson. Students may also apply to work in the kitchens, and prepare and serve food for the tea. The menu is vast and ever-changing, showcasing creativity every time. Of course, there are also favorites, such as the famous “hot dip” (a combination of salsa and sour cream with cheese baked on top).
Lowell House Tea isn’t just a place to grab a tasty scone or cup of tea, however. It’s also a place to mingle and connect with other Lowellians. The Tea isn’t just for students; House resident tutors, who live in the Houses and serve as academic and social advisors to students, and other House staff frequently attend. I’ve had so many conversations over a homemade brownie or scone that I would never have had otherwise, and met so many interesting people.
One highlight of my Lowell Tea experience was meeting Annie Park, the Interim Allston Burr Resident Dean in Lowell House, and her baby. In the midst of a stressful exam season, chatting about what it’s like to join the Lowell community and my experience as a sophomore was refreshing and fun. I’ve found that it can sometimes be difficult to get to know people outside of your extracurriculars or academics, and I likely wouldn’t have met Annie in another circumstance. But food brings people together, even on cold winter days.
Lastly, Lowell House Tea is an important way to unwind at the end of a busy week. Attending college has taught me the importance of prioritizing self-care and wellness, while also juggling academics and extracurriculars. Going to Tea every week reminds me that these things–catching up with friends, eating good food—are just as important as attending club meetings or studying for exams. Thanks, Lowell.