Here's the Tea
local woman opens Chinese cultural experience
Xin Obaid arrived in Eau Claire in 2010 from Wuhan, China, unable to speak English and without knowing a single soul in the area. To combat the loneliness she was feeling, Obaid turned to the things she brought with her from China: books, paintings, and most importantly, tea.
“I would brew Chinese tea, whose fragrance made a home for me,” Obaid said. The aroma reminded her of time spent with her family and friends, and helped her feel less lonely.
Chinese tea became a big factor in connecting Obaid with her new surroundings. “Whenever I meet someone here, I’ll invite her to have tea with me, and then we become friends,” Obaid said. Sharing tea with others eventually inspired her to open a tea studio where she could bring Chinese culture to the Eau Claire community.
Obaid discovered that the people she was meeting were genuinely interested in learning about Chinese culture and tea, and every time she shared tea with someone new, it helped push her toward her goal of creating her tea studio. In addition to the support she was receiving from the community, Obaid spent 10 years studying English and Western culture in order to best help her realize her dream. Then, this January, a room became available at Artisan Forge Studios (1106 Mondovi Road, Eau Claire). Describing this as a “good omen,” Obaid rented with no hesitation.
The MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange and Tea Studio opened March 6. Upon visiting, people can try different kinds of authentic Chinese tea and view presentations that will introduce them to the value and spirit of the Chinese lifestyle.
“My studio works as a small window,” Obaid said. “People can see how an ordinary Chinese family lives and they can feel Chinese culture through tea sipping, calligraphy and Chinese ink painting, Taichi, and Mandarin training.”
The combination of Chinese and Western cultures is something that Obaid has known all her life. Growing up, she was exposed to Western culture through fairy tales, books, and movies.
“I was greatly influenced and nourished by them,” she said. “My eyes were opened, and I was attracted to the outside world.”
Obaid hopes that her studio will provide the same experience for the people of Eau Claire, just with the tables turned this time. She wants the time spent in her studio to help people enrich their own culture through an encounter with another.
“I think the whole world is just a global village without boundaries today,” Obaid said. “I hope they will be more open to Chinese and other cultures, and realize that every culture has its own reason for existence.”
The MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange and Tea Studio at Artisan Forge Studios is open 9am-5pm Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found by searching for the MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange on Facebook.