Chengdu is one of the few remaining cities with a really authentic tea house (Chadian) culture. The thousands of teahouses dotted about Chengdu are hugely popular with locals, especially the elderly here, who spend hours on end sitting around sipping tea and playing games or cards.
Although tea houses are popular throughout China, the ones here are especially well known with a distinct and unique atmosphere. Chengdu teahouses were once traditional working men's clubs, where local men met to conduct business transactions and deals or to listen to storytellers and singers.
The teahouse is an indispensable feature in the life of Chengdu people. As cafes and bars supersede teahouses in other Chinese cities advancing towards modern metropolis status, most of the traditional teahouses still do a good trade in Chengdu, the most celebrated being the one inside the Great Mercy Temple.
It is said that the Great Mercy Temple was the first place that Du Fu, eminent poet of the Tang Dynasty, visited after arriving in Chengdu, and that he ate the free porridge given to the homeless there. In the dynasties following, the temple served as both a Buddhist sanctum and a place of recreation for both officials and the populace. It is only in Chengdu that Buddhism and human society blend harmoniously. Today a Chengdu Museum and teahouse have been built inside the Great Mercy Temple. After ordering a pot of jasmine tea at a nominal five yuan charge, the customer may spend the whole day in the traditional-style teahouse, with its winding corridors, carved beams, painted pillars, and broad fanlight. Waiters serve tea in a particularly skillful manner, from a distance with a long-spouted brass teapot, from which a narrow arc of hot water pours directly into the cup without spilling a drop. Besides tea, breakfast, lunch and dinner, a full range of Sichuan dishes is also served at the Great Mercy Teahouse. Casting a glance around the parlor, you may see young lovers billing and cooing, middle-aged men reading the newspaper, and elders tending their pet birds.
The teahouses in Chengdu reveal a particular attitude towards life: that of acquiring the best service at the least cost. Social demarcation within the social strata is blurred in the teahouse. Sipping tea at the same table, people from different regions become friends.
Today, huge crowds surround card games in these places and the noise can really get quite overpowering! Others prefer to lounge around in the Sichuan bamboo chairs, chewing seeds or nuts. Teahouses throughout the city are still important locations for social gatherings.
Local opera lovers and performers gather in many of the cafes although the "men only" atmosphere about the traditional tea house has long since disappeared.
How to book a tour to Chengdu Tea House?
Sinoway Travel offer 'Add-on Activities' per day.
Price per person: USD 30
Time: 19h00 - 20:20
Include: round trip transfer hotel to tea house, entrance tickets, English translation service.
Contact us to book this add-on activities.