by Landy Erlick ’19
Whether you are new to the Harvard campus, or are simply cooped up in the Quad working on problem sets, you may not have had the opportunity yet to attend a Lowell House tea – and you’re certainly missing out. Every Thursday at 5 o’clock sharp, the kettles are whistling and the students are hustling into the beautiful home of Lowell House Masters Diana Eck and Dorothy Austin.
The weekly gathering is a long-established tradition for Lowell students, but Eck and Austin kindly open their doors to non-House members as well. After waiting in line for several minutes with anticipation building, you are ushered into Lowell’s beautiful courtyard (weather permitting), and from there the opportunities are endless.
The green enclosure is a small departure from the rest of the event. There, a linen covered table offers tortilla chips and guacamole. However, in keeping with the elegant standards of this house affair, there is also a bright punch bowl of lemonade to keep guests hydrated and to serve as an option for the non-tea drinkers out there.
Inside, the real delights appear. Popping your head through gaps in the throng, you can spot Lowell’s famous monkey bread, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter brownies, and some apple crisp – all fresh out of the oven. The warm, gooey pastries are the product of eager Lowell House student-chefs, fondly dubbed “Lowell Elves.”
Lowell resident Anne Mathews ’16 is baking for the first time this year. “Some things, likes the scones and cheesecake bars, are Lowell traditions,” Matthew explains. “But my favorite thing to make is sugar cookies.” Indeed, the cookies are a crowd favorite. Master’s Residence Manager Charlotte McKetchnie is in charge of the beloved function, though student bakers can be seen scurrying out the kitchen and into the parlor to replenish any plate looking too bare.
And if cookies aren’t your cup of tea, there are several cake options throughout the hour. First, a beautiful wedding cake. (Yes, Lowell tea offers a small, white wedding cake.) Then, a decadent chocolate slice awaits. Finally, for the third restock, another beautiful yellow cake adorned with flowers. All of the food looks so professional, you would think Harvard offered a culinary class.
For the savory fanatics, there is the extremely popular baked brie and crackers. Be warned: if you’re not there within seconds of this platter being put down, you won’t even be able to find a trace of the delectable cheese. In keeping with the tradition of high tea, there is also a platter of finger sandwiches, ranging from a classic cucumber to a trendy Nutella.
And the attendees, hosts, and bakers aren’t the only ones enjoying themselves every Thursday.
“Dorothy and Diana have an adorable polydactyl cat named Willy who gets underfoot in the kitchen,” Mathews said.