What's in a Name?

All across Asia, people come together to have a cup of tea and talk. They talk about their lives, and they talk about their communities and their countries. Tea talks spark new ideas. Entire movements are born in tea shops across the region.

We chose the Tea Leaf Center because we take the passion and inspiration of these tea shop conversations into the real world. Like the tea plant, we believe that the ideas and inspiration that develop over a cup of tea can grow and nurture a whole community, and in turn spark new ideas and inspiration. That’s why we support the shift of ideas from abstract, tea shop discussions to research projects that result in knowledge that allows the community to lead its own change.





The Tea Leaf Center was founded in 2018 by Aileen Thomson and Jonathan Rhodes. It was inspired by their more than 14 years of combined experience working with civil society organizations in Myanmar and Thailand, conducting research and facilitating workshops, and the realization that research they were supporting would be much better if it was conducted by the local organizations. After a few years of Aileen planning herself out of a job in favor of local colleagues, and Jon trying to re-work existing consultancies to be more empowering for the host organization, they decided to start the Tea Leaf Center in order to do research the way they believed it should be done.