Teaching Is Like A Cup of Green Tea

by Jessica Hahne


I have a tendency in any city I settle into to find a café I like and make that café a second home. During college, Blue State was a definite go-to...


In Changsha, I’ve found myself following the same pattern, with my new frequent stop for lesson planning being the 85°C Café down the street from Yali. It has a different feel from Blue State, of course, but they make a tea drink there that I particularly like, and often return for.

In many ways, my teaching experience so far can be compared to the drink that draws me to that café. The first couple of times I visited this café, given my limited Chinese reading ability at this point, I could tell they had green tea on their menu, but didn’t know exactly what kinds of green tea they had. I decided to ask for 茉莉绿茶, since that was a type of green tea I liked, and in response they said a tea name back that I didn’t understand, and I just said 是的 and agreed to that. The mystery tea quickly became my favorite drink in Changsha (and that’s saying something, because there are some pretty amazing drinks in this city...).


In the beginning, I knew vaguely what I was ordering, but it took me a bit of time to learn how to say the full name of this drink. In the same way, I feel like I came into this Fellowship knowing vaguely what I was in for, but it has taken me a while to grow in understanding of my role here as a teacher. Learning how to calibrate my lessons to my students’ English level, how to design content so it stays engaging for them, and so many other early teaching lessons, have been like learning to say the fuller and more precise name of what I was coming in to order all along...

Like learning the patterns at the café I frequent, I’ve been learning more about how my students learn best and learning to wait for the moments I’m most excited to get to with them.

The best part is that like 茉香鲜绿茶, my teaching experience is consistently sweet, energizing, and refreshing.

I go to the café to order the drink when I need a pick-me-up to start my day. And no matter how challenging teaching and planning for teaching can be at time, the time that I actually spend with my students in the classroom leaves me feeling re-invigorated after almost every lesson. Even on the final workdays of the weeks with the heaviest work load, I’ve found myself packing up my teaching materials and erasing the chalkboard with the feeling that I really do love this job, and feel so thankful to be here.

Yale-China Association