This week I had the pleasure of meeting with tea enthusiast Jeremy Lipkowitz. He owns a tea business and is currently in the process of opening up a teahouse that includes a space to meditate. Speaking with him, I learned some things about the art of tea and the significant impact it has had on him.
Jeremy was a Ph.D student in Genetics at Duke University, but a few years ago became aware of how stressed people were around him, and how little people paid attention to their own wellness. “I was doing well in all of my courses, and I could have continued on to become a professor, but I wasn’t really happy. I realized that in academia, and almost anywhere you look in our society, there is not a lot of emphasis on wellness and enjoying your life. There is not a lot of emphasis on being happy.”
This led to Jeremy taking matters into his own hands- by turning to meditation. “I learned how to meditate and it totally changed my life. I realized I was passionate about it.” He took that passion and decided to use it to help others, at first through teaching his peers at Duke how to meditate, and then by channeling his energy into tea.
Jeremy explained that tea can be incredibly useful to this mission of slowing down and enjoying life. That historically, monks drank tea to keep themselves awake during long periods of meditation, where they would sit and cultivate an inner sense of wellbeing. So, it made sense to have a teahouse with a space for meditation. Additionally, meditation and tea both have numerous health benefits, particularly around stress reduction, so combining the two in a single space made of lot of sense.
Through help from the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, Jeremy began selling tea at the Durham Farmer’s Market and retail stores around town. While he was still a PhD student, Jeremy taught meditation to the Duke community, and hopes to continue these free classes at the teahouse, likely to open on Hillsborough Road early next year.
Jeremy’s mission is to increase health and wellness in the community. That is why he named his teahouse “Sangha”, which is a Sanskrit word meaning a community of people who support one another’s emotional and mental development. Through this, he serves a community need in Durham.
“The whole issue of mental health is in the closet right now, and we are trying to shed some light on that. Our culture does not want to talk about mental illness. Our culture is so wrapped up in the success game and the rat race.” Sangha Teahouse is making a statement about the way we live, encouraging people to focus on what is really important in their lives. “It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind of success. But learning how to be patient and kind and compassionate is just as important. That’s what Sangha Teahouse is all about.”
Come meet Jeremy and check out his awesome tea selection this weekend at the Durham Farmer’s Market!