The luxury of life: the 10 most stunning teahouses in Chengdu
CDC Features / 14 Jun 2018 / Luxelife, Shirley

You Yin Tea Room

Tea is never just a drink for crunching our thirst. Instead, it is the necessary ingredient in understanding the aesthetics of lives.

Chengdu inhabits the most teahouses in the world. What’s special about teahouses is that no matter who you are, where you come from, teahouses are the places that make everyone feels at home.

We promote the aesthetics of lives. The space of teahouses come with the delicate works in design and philosophy. It gradually influences our perspectives of lives from the coordination of space, objects and tea art.

Therefore, we search for those representative teahouses and celebrate the ones that symbolize tradition and aesthetics.

Using fashion and distinctiveness as standards, we have found and interviewed the ten most characteristic teahouses. Their dedication in preserving tea culture by influencing the public through their social activities and public events

Undoubtedly, they are the shinning stars in Chengdu tea art culture.

They are:

Tea of Humbleness  | 拙 茶 |

Address: No. 128 Xiao Nan Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Keywords: Oolong tea, enamel, elementary tea art classes

The owner of “Tea of Humbleness”, Lai Xiaoxia, learned his skills from Taiwanese tea master Li Shuyun. In 2008, she came back to her hometown and opened a teahouse in downtown area. “Tea of Humbleness” focuses on promoting Oolong tea of great quality and tea utensils in Taiwan while adding some Taiwanese characteristics in the store.

The name of Tea of Humbleness originated from , “The straight may seem crooked; the most skilful may seem clumsy”.

All tea here is free, even for the tea lessons, making it one of the most special teahouses in Chengdu. Unlike other stores which keep replacing employees, the employment here is quite stable. In recent years, enamel becomes one of the main features in the teahouse. Lai’s husband, Huang Boyan, has long been passionate in traditional art, especially for enamel.
Enamel is a combination of porcelain and metal, which stems from traditional artisan.

The teahouse also offers elementary and intermediate level tea courses. The students can gain basic knowledge about six tea categories in the previous lesson and improve their skills in the later.

“Once Upon a Time in Memories”   | 遥里茶事 |

Address: No. 171 Water Street, Tie Xiang Temple, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Keywords: teahouse theater, tea aesthetics, architecture

In early 2017, founder of Taiwanese magazine , Yongsong Huang, attended the much-anticipated opening of teahouse “Once upon a time in memories”.

The design of the teahouse is simple but elegant. Bamboo as the outer courtyard; cereal grass as the rooftop; wooden blocks as the front door, the whole space is tranquil and relaxing.

The first floor is six-meter tall with Diamond Sutra written on its walls. The central area can accommodate around eight to nine people. On a cold and rainy night in Sichuan, gathering around charcoal stoves can offer a great comfort. Famous actors Wu Yifan and Zhao Liyin also learn tea arts here.

People rarely sit on the second floor due to its limited space. However, the teahouse theater on the third floor is an open area that features a series of activities.

The fourth floor is an elegant Japanese style teahouse. The wall is a mixture of yellow mud and cereal grass, applied to wooden frames which have a soothing smell.

Haiyao Liu, one of the founders of “Once upon a time in memories”, has spent three years to organize and an extra year to refurnish the store. Every corner of this store has gone through scrutiny and delicate decoration.

A Sip of Tea, A Taste of Life  | 扫雪煮茶 |

Address: No. 67, Building B1, West Village Courtyard, No.1 Beisen North Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Keywords: milk tea, novelty

Chinese renowned poet Bai Juyi once mentioned that one of the great pleasures in winter is enjoying a good cup of tea and indulge oneself in delicious snacks, which inspired shop owner, Jia Jia, to replicate the scenario into the teahouse.

“A Sip of Tea, A Taste of Life” offers a variety of tea drinks. Its features are milk tea and pie. Different from the milk tea in the current market, the teahouse combines Oldenburger milk and handmade tea to make its milk tea one of a kind. After brewing it in stove, the milk tea becomes the product that is highly praised by customers from all walks of lives.

Perhaps it is one of the reasons that this teahouse so unique. It is common for regular customers to consider it as a second home, and even help out with chores during busy times. They also share their stories on the teahouse’s Wechat account.

“I feel a sense of belonging here,” One customer said. “There’s something magical about this place that makes me feel peaceful. I discard my negative emotions in mind.”

It is said that one influential businessman also fell under its spell, and decided to support and invest in the teahouse.

Cottage of Integrity  | 兀兀草庐 |

Address: No. 36 Fangchi road, Wang Jia Guai Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Keywords: tea lectures, Chinese zithers

Fangchi road is a refined alley in Chengdu. It encompasses of three distinct allies, including No. 22, No. 8 and No. 36. Alley No. 22 is a small western-style building with over 80 years of history, where generals socialise in the early years; also the home to famous soldier Li Jiayu in resistance against Japanese aggression; No. 8 is a time-honoured dumpling restaurant, called silver tree dumpling house; No.36 is a an exceptional teahouse- Cottage of Integrity

Cottage of Integrity derives from a famous poem from renowned poet Bai Juyi, where he describes the integrity he upholds and the open-mindedness he has towards life.

Both the owners of Cottage of Integrity are exactly like what are described in the poem, never following the shallow expectations from others and focus on their goals instead.

The owners once worked in Japanese corporations for years, and they found out tea has become a necessity in Japanese’ lives. However, for Chinese people, it’s hard to find a way to learn proper tea art. Therefore, with more than ten years of experiences of Chinese zither and tea art, they decided to share their interests with more people.

Although with professional licenses in tea art and Chinese zither, the owners have been humble. They do not advertise much about Cottage of Integrity, yet students and customers come from all over the country to learn from them.

More often than not, experts from professional fields reach out to them for training and lectures.

Being professional and humane are the reasons why the teahouse has been so popular.

Bamboo Leaf Teahouse  | 竹叶青论道生活馆 |

Address: No. 35 Shunan Road, Shenxian Street, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Keywords: Zen, Eastern Aesthetics, bamboo leaf

Famous designer Alan Chen built Bamboo Leaf Teahouse on his own. Located on the south side of the busy Shenxian street, this three-story building embodies the philosophy of Zen.

Bamboo Leaf is a tea brand from Shichun, and the teahouse is where they showcase traditional Chinese culture.

When you entered the teahouse, you can see the embodiment of 'Tao Te Ching', where bamboos and the crystal-like pond form a visual art feast of tradition and modernity.

On the second floor, the Japanese decoration and Buddha status also brings out the characteristics of Eastern aesthetics, which makes the place the best choice for enjoying a cup of tea with friends.

On the third floor, it is a perfect place for individuals to take a sip of tea and enjoy the beautiful scenery outside. Perhaps that is also why famous chess players Lee Sedol and Gu Li choose this begin their chess match, a place that’s peaceful and philosophical.

A Cup of Tea for A Story  | 以茶换故事 |

Address: No. 366 Qingyang Shang Street, Qingyang district, Chengdu
Keywords: stories, philanthropy

This is the only teahouse in Chengdu that comes with solely one tea table. People come here more than have a nice cup of they. They come here to tell their stories.

One of the senior Taoist priests in Qingyang Palace played a song with Chinese bamboo flute to thank An Ke, the owner of the teahouse, after finishing his tea

Afterward, more and more people bring their stories to the store. There is a father who got cancer but didn’t know how to tell his son about the tragedy. In the second year, the father brought his son to the store and thanked An Ke for listening to him. She recorded the father’s story, believing that it would be a precious gift for his son.

One lady came all the way from Dalian and asked An Ke to write down her story so that one day she can show off to her grandchildren.

There are even strangers who came to the store and became couples eventually.

“Life is comprised of a series of stories.” An Ke said.

As for her, she spent more than ten years in philanthropy, initiating Chengdu Zhonghang public welfare alliance, and used her own money to establish a studio for autistic children in expressing their feelings through art.

In the store, you can find handmade artifacts from dedicated artists all around the country, with financial difficulties but still persevere in their creations.

An Ke is always listening, waiting for customers to come and tell her the stories of their lives.

Tea Aesthetics  | 浣月茶美学 |

Address: No. 88 Water Street, Tie Xiang temple, Wuhou district, Chengdu
Keywords: tea utensils, tea aesthetics

Tea Aesthetics is located near the river, and the two-story wooden house is a typical design in western Sichuan region.

Chengdu designer Wong He boldly poured in traditional concept into the modern design and built this unique building. The most attracting scenes in the teahouse are the wall covered with thirteen Guanyin pictures. Every stroke is the masterpiece from professor Li Yunyan, an expert in Buddha paintings from Sichuan.

Ma Yun from Alibaba also came here for their famous Wuyishan tea.

The owner of Tea Aesthetics learned his skills from Taiwanese tea master Lin Binhui, who is crowned as “National Senior Tea Taster” for his insights of Zen philosophy, tea arts, and architectural aesthetics.

The owner has collected a wide range of stunning tea utensils, including Japanese silver pots from Yinchuan hall, iron pots from Kisendo, and Li Xiaobai silver pots from Li Xiaobai in Yunnan Dali.

Yinchuan hall initially provides exclusive custom services of silverware for Japanese Imperial family. The tea utensils in Kisendo even have more than four hundred years of history, representing the best works from Japan. Besides, Li Xiaobai’s studio is one of the earliest brands to feature handmade silver pots.

In tea aesthetics, everything from decoration, utensils, and music delivers genuinely embodies art.

Hejing Tea House  | 和境茶社 |

Address: No. 30 Xia Tongren Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Keywords: Taiwanese tea culture, tea lessons

Five years ago, Ruo Ni, the owner of the teahouse, quitted her job as senior editor in Chengdu’s media “Forth City” and established Hejing Tea House from scratch.

She has been learning from Taiwanese masters for years, so she is experienced in Taiwanese tea culture. The teahouse featured traditional Taiwanese tea brands, including Oolong and Fenghuang-Dancong. The rare Alpine green tea is the treasure of this store.

Early springs are the busiest times for Ruo Ni. She would go to tea farms herself to collect tea, insisting on picking the tea leaves of the best quality. It is also the reason why the store is always full of customers.

Besides drinking tea, Ruo Ni wants to bring the public more knowledge of tea. She opens another cultural experience shop nearby to engage more people in appreciating tea culture.

People can attend lectures given by Ruo Ni herself. She would sometimes invite teachers from temples to share about Buddhism, Chinese medicine and Ying, just to name a few.

The word “He” means harmony and inclusion, showing the essence of Chinese culture. Just as the signboard says, “Only a person with peaceful mind can understand the meaning of life.”

In the bustling Xia Tongren street, being in Hejing Tea House and enjoying a cup of tea is the first step of finding our peace of mind.

Philosophy of Life  | 浅山茶物 |

Address: Dongcheng Street, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Keywords: Puer Tea, Buddhism scriptures

The thirty-year-old cherry blossom tree by the corner of walls always amazes people during spring.

The teahouse owner, Wu Bao, said that the tree is why people first fall for “Philosophy of Life”. People are used to calling Wu Bao master Bao because of his expertise in Puer tea and his lectures on tea art in the teahouse.

Wu Bao’s students come from various backgrounds, from business, art, archaeology to tea studies. Their age range from the 20s to 50s and from different ethnicities.

The tea leaves from “Philosophy of Life” mainly come from ancient Puer tea. Wu Bao himself picked them up from Yunnan, collecting some precious Puer ingredient.

After the guests finish their Puer tea, they will fill in a note documenting the tea utensils they used and times of brewing. After they scan the barcode on the edge of the paper, the brewing instructions will appear on the phone.

On every other Thursday, “Philosophy of Life” will hold a session where no one talks for an hour, people focus on enjoying and tasting tea instead. The seven guests participating in the session is similar as Big Dipper in the sky, forming a comfortable realm where they exchange their thoughts on the tea, guess the brands from the aroma, and vote to determine their brands at the end of the session.

“I love my tea, so I don’t want to sell to people who doesn’t understand the art of it. But for those who found interests in tea, I want to give them my tea, so it’s better I stick with teaching. I’m not a good businessman.” Wu Bao said.

Grass house of Purity  | 清芷 |

Address: No. 10th Jingsha Site Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Keywords: Fabric art, Courtyard style

Grass house of Purity situated near a small yard surrounded by a banyan tree and bamboos. People can hardly see what is inside the store, except a metal signboard made in Suzhou, reminding the guests where the entrance is.

The courtyard is typical of Japanese style, where stones construct a neat path and the plants outgrow their surroundings. Besides, there is a blue monk parakeet called “Qiu Qiu”, always worrying about the wildcat outside of the yard.

Walking through the sinuous flagstones, opening the entrance, a wide collection of fabric art, tea tables, Chinese Zithers are presented in front of the guests.

The fabric art and tea tables come from a famous brand in Taiwan, “Bijou”, and Grass house of Purity is the exclusive agent of it in China. With fabric brand “Dust-free house” in Xiamen, the store is a vivid representation of different cultures.

The decoration in the store is a combination of Taiwanese and Japanese style. The mattresses’ pattern is from the roll grass pattern of Dynasty Tang; tea utensils are made of kiln; ikebana is designed by the owner; cushions are brought back by the owner from Taiwan.

The owner said she got the inspirations of the teahouse from tea master Zhan Nanlan of the Urasenke. But it never occurred to her to open lessons in the teahouse, not even activities. She wants Grass house of Purity to be a place where people come and enjoy tea and appreciate its tradition.

Image source: Yi Zhu Yi Shi & Owners of the Teahouses
Director: Ran An
Executor: Ying Yang

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