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Seeking solace inside a teahouse – Beijing

June 1, 2009

 Traditionally Chinese teahouses can be compared to English pubs, socially. A hub where people went to update themselves on news, gossip, and share laughter or condolences with friends. Lifestyles have changed, affluence has affected tastes and teahouses don’t feature as prominently as they used to. They haven’t disappeared either. Large teahouses continue to entertain crowds with opera, while smaller places encourage groups and individuals to relax and reflect. Whether it’s a noisy affair or a quiet space, both serve tea in a ceremonial style.

 Tea heals the physical and mental, pushing anxiety to the side for a short time. Tea offers friendship, breaks down barriers, and sets precedence with honoured guests. All done within a home or teahouse, tea needs time, coffee does not. 

T’ien Yiheng -contemporary writer- gives an eloquent quote on tea:

“Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.”

One of the best places to cool off in the heat of Beijing’s summer, and seek some solace, is a small traditional teahouse. Dark wooden interiors cooling to the eye and calming the mind are filled with plants and the gentle trickle from stone fountains. Energy and mood. Muffled voices heard from behind walls accompany the soft clinking of glass. The mood of the teahouse depends on the activity within, but it can also come from the interior feel.

   
by Cate

by Cate

Don’t expect to be offered a mug and teabag, instead sit back and soak up the manner in which Chinese prepare this sacred brew. Everything is done with a purpose, to enhance the flavour of the leaves, To sip and savour, slowly. Leaves and infusions range from green, oolong, pu’er or fruit blends, prices depend on the size of the vessel your tea is prepared in: cup or pot.

by Cate

by Cate

To watch your tea being prepared before you adds to the experience. A fine balance of warming and cleansing, pot and cups, leaves and strainer. 

I found a video that gives you an idea of how Oolong tea is prepared.

 

Whatever the teahouse or tea you choose, both are worth trying out somewhere in China. You’ll get a sense of the value tea has been given, afterall it did orginate from China.

 

Caffeinated Traveller

 

 

 

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11 Comments
  1. June 2, 2009 2:08 pm

    ~Not an experience to rush through, is it? It would be quite worthwhile to slow life down to a teahouse pace occasionally!

  2. Bear permalink
    June 2, 2009 6:40 pm

    I agree with Heather.

    Although I’ve been to coffee houses I’ve skipped by tea houses. I should try one the next time I have the opportunity.

  3. June 3, 2009 3:45 am

    geat pictures

  4. June 3, 2009 5:17 pm

    Heather and Bear – I’m right up there with you on that one. Life should be at teahouse pace, but some of them are big and busy. Better to choose the smaller ones.

    Nomadic Matt – Thanks 🙂

  5. Zowie permalink
    June 3, 2009 9:16 pm

    If you get a chance. See if you can try the fruit and flower tea. I found it extremely refreshing.

  6. Cate permalink
    June 3, 2009 10:16 pm

    Zowie! I remember that tea well. Will call you soon, I’m in Florida now.

  7. Erica Johansson permalink
    June 7, 2009 4:52 pm

    I prefer to sip a cup of tea at a cosy teahouse and converse with friends as opposed to rushing down the street while gulping some Starbucks take-away coffee.

    This post reminded me of a teahouse I visited in Grenoble. Too bad I didn’t note down the name of the place. If I ever go back I will definitely try to find it.

  8. June 9, 2009 12:50 pm

    Erica – true, I just found out there are Starbuck drive thrus here in the US. Kinda defeats the purpose of enjoying a coffee or tea…slowly.

  9. June 25, 2009 6:39 am

    I love Chinese tea!

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