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4 big “tea schools” of Chinese teahouse1 2 3
There is a long history for Chinese to go to teahouse to drink tea while the saying of four big “tea schools” is the short title for cities where teahouse prevails. If one needs to find the cities where the richest teahouse culture is, there will be Hangzhou in the east, Chengdu in the west, Chaoshan in the south and Beijing in the north. The big brands such as Taiji Tea Ceremony, Lao She Teahouse, Shengtaosha and Wufu Teahouse are all from these cities where “tea flavor” prevails.
Drinking tea in Hangzhou is to experience the exquisite culture there. “Green ridge and Lake Mountain deepen in insight, tea chatting in rattans matching a meditative mind”, Qingteng Teahouse near the West Lake has been the representative of thousands of teahouses in Hangzhou. Sitting by the West Lake, having a good pot of tea that is made from a“Taiji Tea Ceromony”, seeing a tea maker dressing in a steel gray robe, hearing the shouts from Hefang Street and seeing ups and downs of the long-necked kettle from the waiters, it is not the tea anymore that intoxicates but the surrounding that makes the drinker feel high.
Drinking tea in Chengdu is to experience the civilian culture. The seriousness of enjoying life for Chengdu people goes farther than that of Yangzhou people. The way that Chengdu people drink tea can really be called “leisure talk and stall tea”, with no requirements on the tea quality and the environment. Drinking tea can be as easy as putting up a table and chairs under the shadow of a tree. It is the life style that they pursue. Only the technique of pouring tea by long-necked kettle has various styles and abundant schools, with “Emei” and “Qingcheng”, etc. in neck-to-neck position.
Drinking tea in Chaoshan is to experience the tea ceremony culture. “kungfu tea” in Chaoshan is famous both at home and abroad, which is rather detailed process from tea selecting, tea-making technique to tea ware. The tea tastes good because they use sweet and pure water from mountain spring which is boiled by charcoal fire with olive core accompanied by small fan. The best tea leaves should be Oolong and Tie Guanyin, etc.
Drinking tea in Beijing is to experience the noble culture. At the foot of capital, everything has a touch of generous, rich and honor. The tea soup in Laoshe Teahouse which has made tea for more than decades appears to be more elegant and poised compared with the teahouses in other provinces. Red lanterns are hung in strings and the sound of gongs and drums on the stage is extremely loud. Comic dialogue is put on the stage just after Beijing opera, non-stop. Waiters are fond of teaching others here; they know tea culture just like the back of their hands: glass cup for green tea, covered bowl for scented tea and Kungfu tea ware for Tie Guanyin, those cannot be mixed up at all. Tea drinking guests are also happy to hear the witty and humorous explanations. Cultures from different places can be experienced through drinking different tea, while that cup of tea in your hand is brewed by the local folk customs.
According to statistics of relevant departments, there are over 125,000 teahouses nationwide at present with more than 2,500,000 employees, which have been a fresh addition to the leisure and cultural industries in China. Teahouse industry has made positive contributions to the development of national economy as well as rich and spiritual and cultural life in various regions.