The Caltech Alumni Association invites you to The Science of Tea Making. In celebration of Chinese New Year, Alumna Wen Chen (PhD ’00) will share the history and culture of tea, as well as how to brew the perfect cup of tea.
Tea and light appetizers will be provided.
About Wen Chen
Wen was born and raised in China. She came to Caltech in 1995 as a graduate student in the Department of Biology. Her Ph.D. thesis was on genetics and behavior of nematode C. elegans. Since her graduation in 2000, she has been working as a biologist for WormBase, the official knowledge-base for nematode genome and biology, a global project founded and managed by Caltech.
Wen has been interested in plant biology, Chinese brush painting and the history behind the ancient pieces since a young age. Her parents did not allow her to paint because they saw too many artists killed during the Great Cultural Revolution. Her wish to study plants was not fulfilled either since few Labs in Caltech focus on this area. Maybe that explains her enthusiasm towards tea, besides that her aunt in China used to run a jasmine farm for tea making.
When she is off work, Wen is an active speaker introducing Chinese culture to the community. Since 2012, she has been invited to more than 200 organizations in California for speeches. Her topics include Chinese history, attire, dance, music, as well as human rights and modern society of China.
The Science of Tea Making
Tea, discovered in China at ~2700 B.C as a herb, is now a popular drink worldwide. From tree harvest to a cup, every step of the elaborate tea making process can be adjusted to produce different flavors. Tang Dynasty (7th - 10th century) is the turning point for tea to become a daily drink instead of medicine, hence started tea ceremonies among the royal courts, temples, and intellectuals. Numerous poets and art pieces in ancient China are associated with tea. Audiences will learn how the culture of tea evolved from dynasty to dynasty, leading to more and more varieties that we see today. Audiences will also learn how different kinds of tea are created, the best way to brew them, and their different medical benefits.
3pm - 3:45pm: mixer with tea tasting, appetizers, and live Chinese pipa performance
3:45pm - 4:30pm: Wen Chen introduce the history and culture of tea
4:30pm - end: free discussion or hands-on practice of Gongfu Tea Ceremony