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Tea on Tuesdays With FoodLab

Mon, 02/26/2024 - 11:52
Stony Brook's FoodLab, based on the Southampton college campus, serves up various tea blends while offering related talks from food and agriculture professionals on the first Tuesday of each month.
Irene Tully

From the Japanese tea ceremony to the British afternoon tradition and even colonial New England's famous rebellion, the importance and appreciation of tea spans centuries, cultures, and tastes. Now, FoodLab, on Stony Brook University's Southampton college campus, is using tea to connect people around a common food-related theme with its new Tea Talk Tuesdays series.

On the first Tuesday of each month from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., the community is invited to Chancellor's Hall to learn from culinary and agricultural experts, share ideas, shop offerings from local food producers, and, of course, enjoy a hot cup of tea.

"There's a mellow vibe. It's very casual and free-flowing," said Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, FoodLab's director of education, who found inspiration in the educational nature of the TED Talk concept but wanted to create something with a less intense and structured format. She also wanted a way to highlight FoodLab's tea garden, in which students and faculty grow herbs and plants traditionally used to make tea, such as camellia, holy basil, and chamomile.

The topic for this week's session is elderberry syrup, which, according to the Cleveland Clinic, can be beneficial in treating cold and flu symptoms and is rich in potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Rachel Stephens, who owns Sweet Woodland Farms on the North Fork and produces her own elderberry products, will be the presenter; her goods will also be on sale at the event. 

"Everybody wants to know about elderberry syrup," Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said. "It's something that people have been asking for."

Also at Tea Talk Tuesdays, guests are invited to take cookbooks they no longer use for a group cookbook swap, and they are encouraged (but not required) to take and use their own china, which may otherwise just be sitting in a cabinet looking pretty.

The series will continue at least through the summer of 2024. Admission is free but advance sign-up is encouraged, and can be done online at

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