Famous 16th-century tea-master Sen Rikyu identified the four basic principles of what he called the "Way of Tea" as harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity.
The Chinese give great attention to their tea and the way they drink it. People have high requirements for the quality of the prepared tea leaf, the water they use to brew tea and the wares they use to prepare and serve tea.
But for us western tourists - it is just a nice opportunity to sit down, relax (your aching feet – from too much "must see activities"), and enjoy a nice coup of green tea.
My addvice on a tea: try Longjing (Dragon Well) tea (originates from West Lake, Hangzhou).
I'm not one to regularly visit tea or coffee shops, but it was cold outside and the shop was warm. :)
Actually turned out to be an interesting store!
The shop girls did a demonstration for us, and prepared various teas. I think they enjoyed it as much as (or more!) than us, as they all got to sit down and relax for a bit, instead of working. One of the girls was a piggy, and drank most of the expensive lavender flower tea the other girl prepared...
Also gave us snacks and chocolate samples, in the hopes that we would like them and buy some.
This is a small tea house associated with Grandma's Private Home Cuisine. The owner's name is Jacky Li. He has a very interesting story. He was an advertising executive who is famous in that area some time ago when he became ill and decided to leave it all behind for a live of art, meditation and drinking tea for its health benefits.
During this time he came across a tea that did wonders for his illness. He decided to share this with the world and created Oriental Zen Tea Company. I spent several hours talking with him and drinking different tea be prepared for me with no pressure to purchase any. His design and art work for the packaging is beautiful. The tea itself is excellent. It is all organic and he only offers black, green or white tea.
This was one of the more memorable experiences of this trip. I wish Jacky good luck and fortune with his company. They will have a website soon and when I get it I will update this tip.
I love tea. Green, Oolong, Longjing, you name it, I'll try it. So while walking around Qian Hai and Hou Hai I saw this very nice tea house overlooking Qian Hai. It has great decor and friendly staff. I took a seat at a table in front of a window. They have an extensive tea menu. It is on the expensive side though. My first visit I ordered Jasmine tea. They have different varieties and of course vary in price. I chose something in the mid price range. The tea was very good and you can sit as long as you like. Each table has a teapot and heater so you can continue to replenish your teapot that has the tea leaves in it. I sat there nearly two hours relaxing and watching the view.
During this visit I saw a couple order a tea that included a tea ceremony. Before I left I asked about this ceremony and I was told that it is offered when ordering a pot of tea.
So my second visit, I ordered a pot of Longjing. The pot came out but no ceremony. When I asked the wait staff said it was only for Oolong tea. Just a note that the pot of tea is expensive. However, you do get a container of the tea you order. It is a lot of tea but still expensive.
My third visit was the charm. I ordered the Ginseng Oolong tea. My attendant preformed a beautiful ceremony and the tea was awesome. More background on the Tea Ceremony here.
They have surprisingly long hours:
Monday 9:30 am – 2:00 am
Tuesday 9:30 am – 2:00 am
Wednesday 9:30 am – 2:00 am
Thursday 9:30 am – 2:00 am
Friday 9:30 am – 2:00 am
Saturday 9:30 am – 2:00 am
Sunday 9:30 am – 2:00 am
This was an extraordinary experience. I was short on time and could not go when they open at 12pm. They were nice enough to open early to accommodate me. I opted for a tea lesson of sorts and I was fortunate to have this done by the owner, TaoTao. She is extremely knowledgeable and I learned so much from her. Her offerings for the day were a black green and blue tea.
Confucius Tea House also have their own blend of tea which is one of the best I had on the trip. Fortunately they also sell the tea they serve and at a good price. This is definitely the place to go for a relaxing afternoon and to learn about tea.
It is located across from Confucius Temple museum and makes for an amazing full day of visiting the temple as well as Lama Temple only a five minute walk away.
They will be offering classes on tea and tea ceremony. It will be seven classes. They may also be online. I hope to do this!
Serving Tea: In China, serving tea from the host to his guest has lasted for over 1,000 years. While serving the tea, the host should extend his hands to hold the cup to show respect to his guest. Those who are dainty usually will put the cup onto a saucer or tea-tray, and, when offering the tea, they will use two hands to hold the saucer or tea-board before the chest while saying softly “Enjoy your tea”. The guest, at the same time, should slightly move his body forward and express gratitude.
Covering Cup to Thank the Host: It is a convention for the host to serve tea and add water for the guest. If the guest has drunk his fill and wants to leave, he will usually flatly spread out his right hand with the centre of the palm downwards onto the tea cup, indicating, “Thank you. I don’t need more tea.
Substituting Tea For wine: The tradition of substituting tea for wine has existed for more than 2000 years in China. In the Zhou Dynasty, a prohibition was decreed by Emperor Wuwang, who knew that the Shang Dynasty was just defeated due to alcoholic addiction and corruption. So people began to offer tea to the emperor, while the noble and common people substituted tea for wine too. The custom has come down until today.
Tea after or before Dinner: To clean the mouth and get up the appetite, people usually drink clear, sweet, mild green tea or scented tea before dinner. A short rest should be taken before drinking tea after dinner. Sweet, greasy-removed tea like oolong and Puer tea is preferred after dinner.
Read more from http://english.visitbeijing.com.cn/play/culture/n214964055.shtml
After the excitement of visiting the Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Temple of Confucius in Beijing, stop off at The Confucian Teahouse for a relaxing and meditative tea ceremony.
Amidst the lattice screens and lanterns, experience authentic Gong Fu Cha - a traditional way of preparing oolong tea.
Don't be concerned if you are unsure about the formalities; beautiful girls dressed exquisitely in qipao will gently guide you through the ritual.
There are several teas, sourced from Anxi, Biluochun, Longjing and Yangxianxueya, to tantalise the tastebuds. Some special teas, produced for Emperors, sell for more than a thousand RMB!
Lao She was one of the most important Chinese writers of 20th century Chinese literature. Some of his outstanding works include the novel Rickshaw Boy (luo tuo xiang zi) and the pre-revolutionary play Teahouse (cha guan).
Lao She, a Manchurian descendent and a master in Beijing dialect, was born in Beijing in February 3, 1899 and died in August 24, 1966.
The Laoshe Tea House in Beijing, named for Lao She, opened its doors in 1988 and attracts many foreigners (this is one of the reasons the tickets for the shows are so expensive) and locals as well.
The Laoshe Tea House features daily performances and it has a wonderful environment, the reason why everytime I go to Beijing I always go there at least twice.
Besides the cum auditorium it also has a restaurant serving local cuisine and traditional snacks, it has some private compartments where you can appreciate some tea while socializing with your friends and it also has a small shop where you can buy some tea, teapots, cups, souvenirs, etc.
My experience tells me that you should always make a reservation at least in the day before because the shows are always packed.
The shows start at 19:50 and end by 21:20pm and the prices of tickets range from 60 Yuan to 180 Yuan.
The phone numbers I provide you down there are for reservations.
Enjoy your stay in Beijing big guy!
If you are traveling to Beijing and want to combine both the traditional and new China, you cannot miss going to the Green Tea House Restaurant. Although I like the red lanterns and old architecture, this restaurant has a atmosphere unique for Beijing. Everything is presented in a way that will surprise you for being in China and they also have an extensive wine list and can say nothing bad about their service. I know this sounds like an ad, but I really had to pass on my thoughts because it is so different. By the way I have been in Beijing for almost 3 years.
As We all know, tea was invented in china in the ancient times when a chinese emperor has hot water taken of which tea leaves fell and when he tasted the brew, it became popular! we all know that this was a state secret of imperial china and that a british zoologist smuggled tea leaves to india and sri lanka in the 17th century, the rest is history!
Chinese tea is still the best and the most original. In chinese tea houses they serve different kind of tea like oolong, green tea, chrysanthemum tea, infused fruit tea, red tea, the most expensive P'uer Tea and others. price is about 5 RMB to 12 RMB a cup. They also sell packed tea leaves and earthern and ceramic tea pots and cup which ranges from 100 RMB to 500 RMB.
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This was one of our highlights but I am sorry to say that I can't remember the name of the place we went to. We learnt how to brew and drink various Chinese teas and out of 5 samples, I found the Black Dragon tea to my taste. The most fascinating one was the lotus pod that blooms into a flower when emersed in hot water - one can drink the tea, then keep the flower in water for a few days for decorative purposes.
I will say that we found it much cheaper to buy the tea at markets/ local superettes rather than at the Tea House because their mark up was quite incredible!
I'm sure with research and advice from your hotel manager, you can find one. There are many of these in Beijing.
After a freezing morning in Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Jingshan park a welcome lesson on the art of Chinese tea.
5 types were presented to us, all very different, and tasty too.
GO TO SEE THE VARIETY SHOW AT THE LAO SHE CHA GUAN
It's HILARIOUS if you understand the Chinese...otherwise, it's really neat! All of the acrobatics, music, opera...everything in ONE SHOW!