First Year Seminar



seminar students


  • Katharine Burnett, Instructor of Record.
  • Co-instructors: Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, Robert M. Hackman, Shermain Hardesty, Joseph Sorensen, and Erik Fausak


Tea is the most consumed prepared beverage in the world, yet, what is it really? Drunk on every continent, everyone thinks their way is the best – but is there only one “right” way? Through readings and discussion, this seminar introduces students to many cultural and scientific aspects of tea, with topics involving agritourism, art history, chemistry, history, and nutrition. At each session, we will also taste and discuss specialty teas. Join us!


Students will gain a broad understanding about the complexity of global tea cultures and science across a spectrum of disciplines. They will learn how to do smart searches for literature and source materials across the disciplines. Students will hone skills in such areas as textual analysis and oral and written communication.


Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Chemistry. Tea quality is dependent upon the complete natural environment in which it is grown, produced and consumed. Research in the Gervay-Hague lab centers on correlating chemical transformation and molecular transport with environmental factors including soil, topography, and climate to determine the chemical basis of Camellia sinensis cultivation and how it influences Human health through tea consumption.

Daniel Goldstein, Ph.D., is the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences librarian in Shields Library with responsibility for History, Art History and East Asian Studies among many other subjects. With a doctorate in History from Yale University, Goldstein taught for ten years before moving into librarianship. He has a longstanding interest in tea history and its role in the politics and economies of empires which will be explored in this seminar.

Robert M. Hackman, Ph.D., is a lecturer and research nutritionist in the Department of Nutrition. His current studies focus on the role of fruits, nuts and bioactive plant ingredients in human health and performance. An avid tea drinker, he has visited tea plantations and processing plants in numerous Asian countries. As a teacher, he takes a holistic approach to nutrition and lifestyle patterns as ways to enhance well-being and improve performance in school, in sports, and in life.

Shermain Hardesty, Ph.D., is an Agricultural Economist. During the past 10 years, she has led the UC's Small Farm Program. She has collaborated with the University’s Cooperative Extension farm advisors to introduce smaller-scale farms in California to specialty crop opportunities—such as tea, coffee and dragonfruit. Recently retired as a faculty member in UCD’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, she began drinking tea while growing up in Japan. She has visited tea farms in China, Hawaii and California, and now is working to help tea farms in California develop tea tasting and farm tourism businesses. Since 1992, she has been conducting workshops about starting and operating a specialty food business.

Adam Siegel is an agricultural and resource economics librarian in Shields Library. His interests include transmission and dissemination of scientific knowledge of food and nutrition into and within Europe. Representative publications and presentations include "Chocolate and the Atlantic World,” “Early Works on Chocolate,” “Viticulture and Enology Holdings from the Institute for Adriatic Crops and Karst Reclamation,” “Scientific Publications and Agricultural Geographies in Southeastern Europe,” and “Trans/National Adriatic Identities and the Scientific Culture of Olive Oil.” He is currently working on a comprehensive bibliography of early works on tea in Europe.

Joseph Sorensen, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in East Asian Languages and Cultures, who teaches Japanese literature courses. He also leads a UCD study-abroad program each Spring in Kyoto during which he works with tea masters to provide lectures, demonstrations, and workshops on various aspects of the Japanese tea ceremony.