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        Tea Time as Ritual

        In this lesson, students look at tea time rituals either from around the world or in their lives.

        Lesson Summary

        In this lesson, students look at tea time rituals either from around the world or in their lives.

        Time Allotment

        One 50-minute class period, with a second 50-minute session if students complete presentations for homework that they then share with the class.

        Learning Objectives

        • Determine the value and impact of traditions/rituals
        • Compare and contrast a range of cultural/personal traditions with tea time rituals
        • Describe similarities across a range of traditions and rituals


        • Film clips from Tea Time and equipment on which to show them
        • Stopwatch or other timing device
        • Chart paper and markers

        Introductory Activity

        1. Match students into pairs. Tell students to think about traditions in their lives—family, religious, community traditions and the like. Tell them they have about three minutes to share their stories. After three minutes, call time, and have students switch partners and repeat the sharing. Continue this process for a few more minutes

        2. Invite volunteers to share briefly the types of traditions they learned about from their peers, and to describe what they seem to have in common. Record themes on chart paper; themes might include friendship, food, tea, coffee, dance and religion. The list should be as broad as possible.

        3. Point out any beverage-related (coffee, tea or other drinks) traditions students shared, with tea being the first choice. Ask students to describe/discuss tea-related traditions with which they are familiar. Students might mentions things like a tea party or high or afternoon tea; they might talk about certain cultures and their relationship to tea.

        Learning Activities

        4. Highlight aspects of student knowledge—tea as part of a social interaction; tea as a cultural element; tea symbolizing a time to eat special food and so on.

        5. Post the following questions on chart paper or whiteboard:

        1. What is the purpose of tea time in the film?
        2. Why is this monthly gathering important to the participating women?
        3. How would you describe the relationships among the women?
        4. In what ways do the meetings support and empower the women? (For example, the meetings offer friendship and companionship; they like being with other people from the same generation; it provides an opportunity for social interaction, especially as they age, and to discuss their lives with men.)
        5. Are there downsides to these sessions? Explain.

        Instruct the students to read the questions, explaining that they will watch film clips from a documentary called Tea Time that delves into the value and role of tea time, and as they do, they will find answers to the questions. After viewing the following clips, have students respond to the questions.


        6. Provide some background on the Chilean afternoon teatime tradition (which actually has a specific name, "las once").

        Culminating Activity

        7. Ask students to describe whether any of the elements of the film's tea time—or the Chilean tea time in general—are present in the traditions (all) they named earlier. For example: friends coming together regularly, types of food served and eaten. Discuss with students whether these elements might also be common across tea-related rituals around the world. Tell students they will have an opportunity to explore this further for homework.


        8. Present students with two options:

        • OPTION A: Each student researches tea time rituals in a country of their choice. They will briefly present the country's tea rituals, making sure to include particulars such as time of day, types of foods eaten, type of tea, who participates, how often it happens, the origin of this tradition and where it takes place. They can share this with the class, adding visual presentations if desired. Ask the class to note similarities and differences among the different presented traditions, making connections to the elements presented in the film's tea time gathering.
        • OPTION B: Each student creates a visual presentation of either tea time traditions of their cultural heritage, or any ritual that is customary within their cultural heritage. Where possible, they should make connections to the common elements presented in the film's monthly tea time gathering: social interaction, types of foods, settings and so on. Students present their traditions to the class, which then identifies similarities and differences among the various rituals.

        <span">If time permits, students can even plan and host the various tea time rituals they researched so that the class can learn about and experience them in real life.



        1. A Woman's Place

        In the film, several of the women share stories of their younger lives with husbands who were less than faithful or supportive, pointing perhaps to a Chilean history of issues with women's status. Show Clips 3: "About Husbands" (Length: 3:50) and 8: "A Woman's Place" (Length: 2:26). Ask students to delve into the past and present roles and rights of women in Chile. What has and has not changed? Several sites to propel student research:



        2. Socialization and Aging

        In the film, tea time provides aging friends the opportunity to get together, talk and share experiences. This regular gathering serves as a support and socialization system for the elderly women. Show Clips 1: "Bringing Friends Together" (Length: 3:10) and 4: "Outings" (Length: 00:25). Assign students to explore the impact of social interaction among the elderly, looking at its benefits and identifying ways they might enhance socialization opportunities for older adults in their community. The following sites can be used to jump-start student thinking:




        Tea Time
        You can find links to additional resources on the film's websites: and The POV site includes a general discussion guide with additional activity ideas.

        POV: Media Literacy Questions for Analyzing POV Films
        This list of questions provides a useful starting point for leading rich discussions that challenge students to think critically about documentaries.

        About Food: "Turkish Tea and Coffee Culture"

        BuzzFeed: "This is What a Cup of Tea Looks Like in 22 Different Countries"

        The Daily Tea

        Four Seasons Magazine: "6 Ways to Drink Tea Around the World"

        Historic UK: "Afternoon Tea"

        Japan: The Official Guide: "Tea Ceremony" "Tea Resources"

        The New York Times: "In Northern Germany, a Robust Tea Culture"

        The New York Times: "Tea Culture Blossoms in New York"

        Tea Association of Canada: "Tea Traditions Fact Sheet"

        Tea Association of the U.S.A.: "A Tea By Any Other Name..."

        The Telegraph: "Tea Traditions Around the World: In Pics"

        World Tea News: "The Values of Tea: A Gift for Mankind"

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