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Junior Danielle O’Dette and sophomore Owen Fin­gerhut mix up chai tea to enjoy while studying. Katie J. Read | Col­legian

After sopho­mores Owen Fin­gerhut and RJ Norton and junior Daniel O’Dette heave their cal­culus books onto a table in the Mauck Hall lobby, they head to the kitchen to spice up their study session with a big pot of homemade chai tea.

“It’s 2 inches sliced ginger, 10 cloves, six car­damom pods, 2 tea­spoons black pep­per­corns, about 2 inches of cin­namon stick — all lightly crushed,” Fin­gerhut said, reciting the recipe from memory.

The next steps are easy. Add the water, and let it bubble for a while before dropping in a few bags of black tea. Simmer all of that for 5 minutes, and pour in some whole milk.

“But strain the spices first,” Norton inter­jected.

“Yes. Strain the spices before you add the milk,” Fin­gerhut said.

Fin­gerhut and Norton said they started this chai-tea tra­dition their freshman year, and they’ve stuck with it since — they know they need the study time, and the sweetness in a cup of chai cuts the unpleasant after­taste of an evening spent staring at biology notes. It’s a ritual the two started after they met in their freshman ori­en­tation group, dis­cov­ering they shared both a similar course schedule and a craving for the authentic ethnic cuisine they enjoyed back in their West-Coast home­towns.

“It is kind of just dic­tated by con­ve­nience,” Norton said. “We happen to have had a lot of classes together, and so we have had a lot of instances where we needed to study, and we’re sitting together, and we might as well make chai because it is really easy to make.”

So once or twice a week, Fin­gerhut and Norton meet up with their laptops, their notes, and a few pounds of fresh ginger to review material from the classes they’re taking together and enjoy their favorite drink brewed to their stan­dards. It’s not always just those two, though — other stu­dents have joined them over the semesters, like O’Dette, who teamed up with Fin­gerhut and Norton last month when the three had the same test fast approaching.

As the group wades through stacks of notes and chapters of infor­mation, their con­ver­sation bounces from topic to topic, keeping the mood cheerful. All the talk of tea, for example, reminded O’Dette of a con­ver­sation he had with his high school music teacher, who read a book that the­o­rized Europe’s intro­duction to coffee began the Renais­sance.

“Sud­denly, everyone was drinking coffee over beer, and sud­denly they’re more pro­ductive,” O’Dette said. “So the theory goes that the entire Renais­sance was sparked because somebody started drinking coffee, and it spread. And everyone, instead of being hun­gover at 5 p.m., was now so full of energy they didn’t know what to do.”

Fin­gerhut and Norton both said they hope to con­tinue studying together next year, which means Fin­gerhut will con­tinue to schlepp several pounds of the higher-quality ginger he buys at home in Cal­i­fornia back to campus, just to ensure his tea has the right zing.

But for these zealous stu­dents, who seem to be campus’ most ardent chai-enthu­siasts, their study-time tra­dition is worth the extra effort.