The story appears on

Page B6

May 26, 2014

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Teahouses cater to various persuasions in city

TEAHOUSES in China sell more than simple tea, but also leisure time and entertainment. In ancient China, people of different classes and careers gathered at teahouses to meet friends and share the latest news.

“They work more like information exchange centers, except that they also sell drinks,” says Shen Jiong, an official with Shanghai Tea Institute. “As described in many novels, the heroes often accidentally overheard important news when enjoying their tea at a teahouse.”

As an important port for transportation, Shanghai enjoys priority in the teahouse culture, though not necessarily in the same way as other regions.

“Shanghai is known for tolerance and diversity, and so is the teahouse culture here,” says Shen. “There are always different ways for customers to enjoy their time with tea.”

The first teahouse in Shanghai was said to be established under the reign of Emperor TongZhi in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It set the trend for a series of traditional teahouses that featured capacious room and delicate tea and snacks.

Music teahouses and garden teahouses came into being in the early 20th century as a result of cultural influences from the European and Japanese in the concessions.

Since the late 1990s, various cozy teahouses have been favored by friends wanting to gather and for business talk.

A teahouse competition was launched in the city in late May, and star rankings will be given to participants according to their environment, facility and service quality.

However, ordinary people may be more interested in teahouses that have distinctive features, such as providing books, traditional storytelling performances, those that integrate tea with cuisine, and teahouses that are little more than convenient stalls selling tea.

“There are teahouses providing a wide range of services, but I personally prefer teahouses that provide only tea, as they usually put more effort in presenting the best tea,” says Shen.

(Zhang Yang contributed to this story.)

Jing Chafang (Respect Teahouse)

 This typical Anhui-style teahouse in suburban Jiading District feature whites walls and a black roof, bringing customers back in time.

It provides not only good-quality tea but also a lifestyle with respect to tea.

The owner has been a tea lover for more than 20 years.

Back in the 1990s, good tea was available in teahouses, but the atmosphere usually wasn’t very good. Conversely, if you found a teahouse with a good environment, chances were the tea wasn’t good.

The owner then decided to open a teahouse in which the tea, service and atmosphere matched his high standards.

Jing Chafang is spacious at 600 square meters. It has an area for regular customers and a function room for tea-related art exhibitions.

The teahouse also has a straightforward pricing system compared with competitors.

It charges for the space and the retail price of whichever tea is ordered. Most teahouses charge a package fee, which is often referred to as the “teahouse price.”

Having a tea specialist prepare the tea costs extra although customers have the option to make it themselves.

Unused tea leaves can be kept at the teahouse and used on a future visit.

Address: 52 Dongxiatang Street, Jiading District

Tel: 5991-1122

  Wholesale markets offer great variety

Wholesale markets for tea are usually referred to as “tea towns” in Shanghai.

Daning Tea Town and Difute Tea Town in Zhabei District, Jinqiao Tea Town in Pudong and Tianshan Tea Town in Changning District are among the biggest wholesale tea markets in the city.

Daning Tea Town has about 300 tea shops selling more than 1,000 tea-related products.

Visitors are encouraged to look around and discover the quality-testing area, tea-evaluating area and tea auction space on the fourth floor. The top floor has a teahouse that would blend in harmoniously in a Suzhou garden.

Jinqiao Tea Town features more than 100 shops and over 100 types of tea. Most of the tea sold here comes directly from tea farmers or tea companies in producing regions. Two freezer rooms are equipped to ensure the best quality.

Difute Tea Town is designed like a cultural park. Every store features Chinese paintings and statues.

This market also sells coffee.

• Tianshan Tea Town

Address: 520 Zhongshan Rd W.

• Daning Tea Town

Address: 1536 Gonghexin Rd

• Difute Tea Town

Address: 1165 Gonghexin Rd

• Jinqiao International Tea Town

Address: 1683 Donglu Rd, Pudong

Mid-Lake Pavilion

Hu Xin Ting Teahouse, also known as Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, is the oldest and one of the most traditional teahouses in Shanghai.

Built in 1784, it became a teahouse in the late 19th century.

Sitting in the center of the lake in Yuyuan Garden, the teahouse provides a great view for the customers together with good tea and fine snacks.

Typical of architecture in the Ming and Qing dynasties, the teahouse is a 3-story wooden pavilion decorated with complex carvings on pillars and divine animal statues on the roof.

It is said that the building belonged to a gambler who lost it to a businessman. The businessman repaired the building carefully and added a zigzag bridge to perfect the scene.

The teahouse still keeps the original style of decoration, such as wooden folding screen and horizontal inscribed board.

A wide range of well-known teas are provided, including West Lake Longjing tea, Dongting Biluochun, Qimen black tea and An’xi Iron Guanyin tea.

To complement the tea, the teahouse furnishes guests with special delicacies.

Strongly recommended are the quail eggs, which are boiled together with Iron Guanyin tea.

You can savor the experience simply by peeling the eggs and sucking the juice inside them.

In addition, the preserved plums and small glutinous rice dumplings are good choices. The best part is that you can enjoy the excellent music played on traditional Chinese musical instruments while relishing the food.

The teahouse, legendary for its tea and snacks, has witnessed a continuous stream of visitors over the years, including prime ministers and celebrities from England, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada, among others.

It’s always good to enjoy some tea at the pavilion after a day of traveling or shopping. All you need to do is walk past the garden’s famous zigzag-shaped bridge.

Address: 257 Yuyuan Rd

Tel: 6373-6950

Qiuping Teahouse

It is the first teahouse in China that serves special dishes that contain tea as supplementary ingredients.

It boasts more than 100 delicate and unique dishes which perfectly complement the tea. The most well-known courses include red-braised meat cooked with Qimen Black tea, shrimp fried with Oolong, and tsodoe cooked with Pu’er.

The tea leaves all help reduce the greasiness and fishy smell of the major ingredients while adding pleasant tea aroma.

Located on Xiangyang Road S., the teahouse provides visitors with vintage surroundings mixed with a feeling of Jiangnan (region south of the Yangtze River).

Each dish is well-cooked and every waiter is willing to introduce the recipes and ingredients of the dishes.

The teahouse offers seasoning made from tea, which can eliminate the unwanted smell of fish and meat.

Liu Qiuping, founder of the teahouse, endeavors to preserve traditional tea culture and create new ways of cooking.

The teahouse has been rated as one of the best 100 teahouses in China by China Tea Association for many years and is also renowned overseas. The special dishes are regarded as “the 9th cuisine in China.”

Address: 687 Dongdaming Rd

Tel: 6212-5758


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend