Welcomes, coffee, tea and biscuits greeted women from all over the world at our 1st birthday celebrations this summer. Every fortnight Hackney Museum is host to Xenia workshops, a space for women of all ages and backgrounds to come together – migrant women learning English and English speakers – to talk, learn and share our stories. What on the surface appears to be a group of English learners practicing a new language with English speakers, is in fact the beginning of so much more. Through language learning we build relationships, connections and stories; empowering women (both English learners and speakers) with conversation and friendship.

Unlike other Saturdays where tea and biscuits are there to warm up conversations, this week they were right at the core of our chatter as we shared the peculiarities and tricks to our perfect cup of tea – not as British as you think! As we shared the little rituals that go with our 11:00 am cup of coffee or the very precise techniques to get your tea just right, we realised there is much more to the feeling, taste and experience of a hot drink than we’d expect.

After the first cup we headed to Groundwork’s garden and were greeted by Fourthland’s Louise and Eva, artists we have been collaborating with all summer. With music, mystery herbs and great company we experienced infusions in a whole new, interesting way; participants told stories of connecting the aromas not only to different body parts but also reminiscing what that scent brought to life. A grandmother’s perfume, a healing lotion a mother used, warm summer mornings or simply a deep sense of peace. It was a doorway to childhood stories from all over the world, healing tips and a few Xenia original tea blends!

Overall, the cloudy sky wasn’t able to dampen our summer celebration, which ended with food, conversation and laughter around the table. Thank you everyone who brought and shared a dish, a cake, a story, and a cup of tea!




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