No trip to Chengdu is complete without visiting a traditional Chengdu teahouse. Tea houses are some of the best places in Chengdu to witness the relaxed lifestyle and folk culture of Chengdu. If you haven't visited a Chengdu tea house and partook of its famous tea culture, you cannot say that you have really been to Chengdu.
There are three trademark elements of traditional Chengdu teahouse culture: Bamboo chairs, three-piece tea sets and a tea doctor.
1. Bamboo chairs. Chengdu is home to the panda bear. And of course, bamboo. Locals use bamboo to craft tables and chairs. Bamboo chairs are cool and comfortable to sit on during the hot summer. Bamboo chairs have been used since Chengdu tea houses first emerged and are still being used today.
2. Three-piece tea sets. These exquisite porcelain sets include cups, lids and a tea tray. The locals call drinking tea "Gai Wan Cha" (Bowl-covered Tea) from this style of tea set. Authentic Chengdu style tea sets are always made of porcelain.
3. Tea doctors. Tea doctors are similar to waiters. Their main responsibilities are making tea and refilling customers' cups. Traditionally, Chengdu teahouses do not offer teapots for each table; this is where tea doctors come in. Over the years, tea doctors' customer service skills evolved into an elegant performance art. Tea doctors refill customers' cups from long distances, and in challenging postures, without spilling a drop, by skillfully pouring from special metal teapots equipped with long spouts. Tea doctors carry their tea pots everywhere, dancing among different tables. Such skill, such acrobatic performances definitely takes your breath away!
Teahouses are often outdoors and are good places for networking and entertainment. Businessmen often entertain customers or even sign contracts at tea houses. For a few Yuan, customers can sit in a tea house, read books, eat Chengdu specialties, chat with friends, play mahjong, chess or cards, or watch Sichuan Opera. The art of face (or mask) changing is a popular local performance you don't want to miss. Chengdu teahouses welcome thousands of visitors each year, especially during summer vacations, when everyone is coming and going. That is truly a magnificent spectacle!
Some of Chengdu's most famous and time-honored tea houses include Shunxing Old Teahouse, People's Park Teahouse, Yuelai Teahouse and HeMing Teahouse. All of which are located in downtown Chengdu.
Come to Chengdu, visit a teahouse and take a sip. Taste the rich and profound flavor of Chengdu culture!