About Us

Urasenke Philadelphia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization dedicated to supporting and promoting awareness of Japanese tea ceremony (chado or chanoyu in Japanese) in Philadelphia and the surrounding region.

Our members are teachers and students of chado as well as people who enjoy participating as guests or just learning more about it. If you’d like more information about membership in the association, click here.

We offer lectures and demonstrations to groups around the region and, for those who are interested in exploring more deeply, our teachers offer lessons. Our teachers are all licensed by the Urasenke school of tea ceremony in Kyoto, Japan.

In addition to private lessons and demonstrations, our group offers monthly demonstrations at Shofuso, the Japanese House and Gardens in Fairmount Park, from April through November. We also offer weekly lessons in chado in affiliation with Shofuso.

As part of our mission, we also offer educational grants and scholarships for organizations and individuals.

You can contact us by e-mail at urasenkepa@gmail.com

History

Our group was founded by the late Brother Joseph Keenan (1932-1999), a member of the Christian Brothers Catholic teaching order and a professor at La Salle University.

keenan

Brother Keenan first became interested in chado while attending a series of lectures and demonstrations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. With his background in liturgy, he immediately saw parallels between chado and the Eucharist of the Catholic mass. He began to research the connections between the two rituals, which led him to starting taking lessons in chado.

Brother Keenan’s passion led him to propose offering classes in chado at La Salle. With the support of the Grand Master (Oiemoto) of the Urasenke school, he oversaw the renovation of one of the campus’ outbuildings into a tea ceremony house. The three-year project was completed in 1987.

Brother Keenan taught chado-related courses, allowing La Salle students to take lessons in tea. For members of the public, he and teachers Taeko Shervin and Mariko La Fleur offered weekend and evening classes.

When Brother Keenan died in 1999, the two remaining teachers kept the tea house open with the help of the students and the support of the faculty at La Salle University. In 2007, after La Salle decided to discontinue the tea ceremony program, we found at new home at Shofuso, the Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, where we continue to offer lessons and demonstrations today.

In 2012, we formally applied to the Urasenke main office in Kyoto, Japan, for permission to become a kyokai, a local branch of the Urasenke membership organization. In September 2012, we became Chado Urasenke Tankokai Philadelphia, or Urasenke Philadelphia for short.

Our Teachers

Taeko Shervin

Taeko Shervin has been practicing chado for more than twenty-five years. She began sharing her passion for tea in the form of demonstrations at venues ranging from cultural fairs to department stores, including Shofuso, the Japanese House in Fairmount Park. In 1986, she started teaching at La Salle University, where she gave lessons to students and public alike. She continued her own studies, however, and in 2010 she attained the rank of kyoju, an honor that has been granted to few teachers in the United States. Today, she continues to teach private students, and regularly does public tea ceremony demonstrations.

Morgan Beard

Morgan Beard has been studying chado since 1994. Her introduction to tea was an undergraduate course with Brother Keenan at La Salle University. She enjoyed doing tea so much that she continued to study under teachers Mariko La Fleur and Taeko Shervin, expanding her knowledge of tea and eventually becoming a licensed teacher, receiving her chamei (tea name) in 2010 and the advanced license jun-kyoju in 2016. She teaches weekly lessons at Shofuso along with Drew Hanson, and also does demonstrations and other events throughout the Delaware Valley. In addition to her chado-related activities, she works full-time as a non-profit manager.

Drew Hanson

Drew Hanson has been studying chado since 1995 when he began practice with Brother Joseph Keenan at La Salle University’s teahouse. Subsequently, he trained under teachers Mariko La Fleur and Taeko Shervin and is a licensed teacher. He completed his first phase initial tea studies when he received his chamei (tea name) in 2010, and was granted the advanced license jun-kyoju in 2016. Now retired, Drew continues to study, teach, and demonstrate chado. He’s an avid gardener and ceramicist and operates Boukakuan, Japanese Tea House and Garden, at his home in New Jersey. Drew holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the Pennsylvania State University.