Tea for Two – Understanding Beijing’s Obsession with Tea

Food — By Lauren Johnson on November 22, 2010 at 6:00 am

China’s love of tea is deeply rooted in its culture. No visit to China is complete without a tour of a Chinese tea house. In Beijing, there are several excellent options for your first tea tasting or tea ceremony. A simple visit to a reputable, traditional tea house can do the trick. Trust me, after having Chinese tea you’ll never want to go back to the ‘tea’ you drank back home. Trying the real deal at its origin is the best ad only way to experience tea. Below are some great options for trying tea the traditional way while in Beijing, but for a more comprehensive list of options, see this compiled list.

Hong Lu Tea House. This lovely Hidian location is a great option for a lively conversation. Organic teas from across China are the speciality here, and you’ll find the staff really know their stuff. Have a question about a certain tea?–ask away! This is a lively and fun atmosphere but when it comes to tea they are a serious bunch.

Minglanxuan Tea House. With traditional music and log benches and lanterns, you feel like you’ve walked into a different time period when you enter the Minglanxuan Tea House. The tea is, of course, excellent, but the atmosphere and music is why people return again and again. This is an especially popular place with locals and old China hands.

Lao She Tea House. This is the single most delightful place to go in Beijing if you love Beijing Opera, the house is named after the writer of the pre-Revolutionary play ‘Tea House.’ Regularly, opera singers take to the stage in this massive tea house to perform for the guests. A large menu of tea and snack options entices you to stay for hours.

Wu Fu Tea House. This is Beijing’s only chain teahouse, and its popularity was greatly deserved. With half a dozen locations in Beijing you can tell they have the formula right. The interiors are always nice, quiet and conducive to conversations in hushed tones. You can find a location near you to enjoy the pleasant teas, snacks and plush seating.

Whether you will be in Beijing for a week or a year, these tea houses are a must see. If you have limited time, try to make it to at least one teahouse. The experience could change you from a coffee to tea lover– for life!

Read about Shanghai’s top teahouses.

Tags: cha, china tea, tea, tea houses