Drinking Tea in Different Cities
Updated: 2008-07-16 10:09
By Feng Hui (chinaculture.org)
If you want to understand someone, you don't need to know everything about him or her. Sometimes a tiny behavior can betray everything. The same is true with a city - some details hidden in public may be the spirit of the city. Similarly, unique charms and characters of different cities are concentrated, hidden, and permeated in different tea houses.
Tea houses have long been seen in China, and are available in the cities along the Yangtze River, Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces as well as Beijing and Tinajin.
Hangzhou and Chengdu are undoubtedly the best in terms of popularity of their tea houses. It is common to see people cluster along the street drinking tea, chatting or playing mah-jongg. Spending a whole day at a tea house is the unique culture of the two cities; low prices make it more feasible there. Certainly, there are some differences between the tea houses of Hangzhou and Chengdu. Hangzhou is famous for its beautiful scenery; drinking tea in the open air is an agreeable enjoyment.
However, most tea houses in Beijing are expensive, and the burgeoning coffee houses and bars are more attractive to young people. Thus, in Beijing, the tea house has become a symbol of luxurious enjoyment and taste.
Unlike Beijing, tea houses of Shanghai and Guangzhou still keep their nostalgic feelings. In Shanghai's tea houses, old items like old-fashioned telephone and kerosene burners will wrap you in an atmosphere of modem blended with the classic. Families get together in noisy tea houses to enjoy tea, and family happiness is distinctive to Guangzhou.
Thanks to the tea house, because its existence make vagrant people have a place to express their emotion and thoughts, inspiring famous works like "Tea House" and "Trilogy of Tea Men" and making acquaint a city no longer a difficult thing.
Beijing, Faded Tea House
Tea houses used to be places for expressing one's eloquence in old times in Beijing; as for drinking tea itself, is not as important as it in South China. Beijing men drink tea in tea houses just for enjoying traditional opera and chatting with friends.
Nowadays, many different kinds of tea houses have emerged in Beijing, but, the tea houses with Pekingese characters have become more popular, Many people go to tea houses just because it is a quiet place for chatting or business negotiation, and few people care about the style and culture of tea houses. No wonder most tea houses cluster in shopping centers or neighborhood of office buildings, while they are hardly seen in residential areas.
Indeed, the fast-moving life and expensive price of tea houses in Beijing mean Beijing men can't spend a whole day at a tea house like Chengdu men do.
Guangzhou, Life in Tea house
Cantonese are addicted to drinking tea, as keeping with tradition. Drinking tea is not only a habit but also a life style of the Cantonese. Tea house is undoubtedly a brand of Guangzhou.
Actually, drinking tea in Cantonese tea house not only includes tea but also snacks or dim sum in the local dialect. Dim sum is an important part in tea house, by which its making and variety can fully reveal the quality of the tea house.
Comparing with Beijing and Hangzhou, Cantonese tea house is lucky for its retaining its original flavor. In Beijing, young generation has already forgotten the word "tea house"; while in Hangzhou, stylish tea house has been turning into a place for relaxation just as bar did a few years ago. But, in Cantonese tea house, everything you can hear, see or smell is the original flavor of life.
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