The Tea Haus: Mysticism, Comfort, and Tea

The Sarah Lawrence Tea Haus is a mystical place on campus. Nestled in the middle of the old and new dorms as if one day it slowly emerged out of the ground, the squat building is as old as Westlands. Originally built on William and Sarah Lawrence’s estate as an open air gazebo known as the “summer house,” it has since served SLC as a WWII War Board Office, faculty office, and newspaper headquarters. Today, it’s a cozy study space dispensing an array of teas and baked goods. “It’s like a mini library,” Rebecca Horn, incoming manager, said. The Tea Haus is probably actually superior to ole Raushenbush because it smells like simmering tea leaves instead of sweat.

But relegating the Tea Haus to a library comparison would be doing it a disservice. It serves several other purposes. “I know a lot of dons who come by and have meetings in here,” Rebecca added. “Brom Anderson is a big regular. We also host events. We do the Spoken Word stuff, and we do some music nights.” If you’re searching for an intimate spot on campus for a presentation, reading, or performance, the Tea Haus does just the job.

Tea Haus staff has recently upped their publicity efforts: they’re now on Tumblr and Facebook. The Tumblr’s especially enjoyable, as it’s an online reflection of the warm, fuzzy building atmosphere. In addition to the expected reblogs of teapots and tidbits of Tea Haus history, you’ll find inspirational quotes for conference week and profiles of smiling shift workers. Both Facebook and Tumblr pages will be updated with accurate Tea Haus schedules whenever anything changes.

At the moment, the Tea Haus is open from 9 am to 7 pm during the week. For the last couple weeks, shift workers have stayed until midnight to fuel thirsty paper-writers (tips are encouraged!). On Saturday, the Tea Haus is open from 11 am to 7 pm. The doors are usually closed on Sundays, “But always check, because there might be a manager there,” Rebecca advises.

Some aspects of the Tea Haus have fallen into decline in recent years, and Rebecca plans to bring the space back to its old glory. That means faster Internet (currently the wi-fi pace could be classified as “bumbling”), coffee, and a general sense of reliability. Also, consistent pastries. “’More pastries’ is the platform I’m running on for re-election,” Rebecca proclaims.

She hopes that through increased publicity and additional events, people will rediscover the Tea Haus as a community hub. “I want next year’s first years to have good memories [of the Tea Haus] and have them want to sustain the awesomeness after I’m gone,” Rebecca said.

When asked whether the Tea Haus belongs in The Shire or Narnia, Rebecca was pensive. She concluded, “I feel like this is the gateway to Narnia. If you come in the doors and go out through the fireplace, you’d get to Narnia.” That said, she added, “I would like to note that we don’t have any indented Christianity in the Tea Haus. This is a queer space. Queer Narnia.”

Next year, look to the Tea Haus for your morning pastry and hot beverage. Go at night for spoken word or jazz ensemble. Finish your reading over a cup of Rooibos in the afternoon. Especially if you’re lucky enough to get stuck in the Tea Haus on a snowy night, you’re guaranteed to find the magic. Take it from Rebecca: “It’s like sitting in a snowglobe.”

Ella Riley-Adams (Founder, Editor-in-chief) comes from a small town in Southern Oregon. She enjoys champagne, soccer and swimming in ponds. When not immersed in Sarah Lawrence affairs, Ella works for NYC marketing and tech blog The New York Egotist and The Faster Times. Follow her on twitter @ellarileyadams.

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