"All the tea in China". There is no doubt that tea is important in the discussion of China, present and past. Chinese culture and history advanced hand-in-hand with tea culture and teahouses.
Why Go to a Tea House?
Tea houses are not as popular as they used to be (modern coffee shops are crowding them out), though they can still be interesting places to see Sichuan Opera, and, naturally, they are great places to hang out if you happen to be a dyed-in-the-wool lover of tea. If life in the relaxed lane is what pleases you, then a tea house is the place to go.
The tea houses of Chengdu serve all the major teas, including the famous Chinese teas such as jasmine, maofeng and zhuyeqing. Below is a short list of tea houses in Chengdu.
If you are looking to experience a traditional part of Chinese culture, one that still exists today, then here are the best teahouses in Chengdu. Of course different people have different tastes so this list will serve as a guide for finding your own best teahouse in Chengdu.
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The "Living Room" Teahouse
Most Chengduites go to tea houses to lean back in their bamboo chairs relax, smoke, watch TV, play cards, play Majiang, and just generally let the day pass by.
The people here are so informal that when you walk in you won't hear "welcome", it will sound more like "what do you want?"or "what's up?". Sometimes the tea itself is almost totally neglected, except of course for the rule "one tea one seat".
Sitting here you'll feel like you are in a friend's living room. These teahouses are everywhere. In some places you can even find five tea houses right next to each other on one street.
For the best among this branch of teahouse check out the Shengtianlu Teahouse; it's easy to find and offers a very long list of teas. They even offer Gongfu tea on the first floor. But perhaps most people will want a little something more in a teahouse: a special atmosphere or environment.
- Shengtianlu's Address: Wuhou Area, 1 Yulin Nanlu, Chengdu成武侯区玉林南路1号 圣天露茶楼
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The Tranquil Outdoor Teahouse
Most "Chengdu top tea houses"lists online mention the Heming teahouse in People's Park. For a long time this teahouse has provided the permanent expats of Chengdu with the romantic atmosphere necessary to fall in love with the city itself.
The only problem with relaxing in People's Park is the long line of people who come to shine your shoes, clean your ears, etc. This is also true of many teahouses in the Wenshu Monastery area.
Because of this slight annoyance try the teahouses in Culture Park. The environment and atmosphere of the teahouses (Zhiji for example) there are much more enjoyable. Also, not too far from Culture Park there is a teahouse tower (Sanhua) next to the river that will give you a very satisfying tranquil riverside experience.
- Zhiji Teahouse is located in Culture Park. 支矶园 文化公园
- Sanhua Pagota is located on the river by Baihuatan Park. 散花茶楼 百花潭公园门口外
The Ancient Chinese Teahouse
Most of the teahouses in the Wide and Narrow Alleys are fancy, renovated and offer Sichuan opera performances. However one teahouse has something very special to offer. After wondering off the main path you'll find a quiet, peaceful, humble 200-year-old teahouse (Laozhaiyuan). No performances. Nothing flashy. But just staying there for a few minutes you can travel back in time to an ancient China.
Laozhaiyuan's Address: Wide Narrow Alleys, 11 Kailu Laozhaiyuan, Chengdu成都市宽窄巷子11号恺庐老宅院
The Sichuan Opera Teahouse
As mentioned above the Wide Narrow Alleys offer every kind of teahouse you could ask for. However, if you are looking for the best place to watch the Sichuan Opera there is only one answer: the Shunxing Ancient Teahouse.
The performances here will fully entertain even people that don't speak Chinese. The Yuelai teahouse should also be mentioned as a cheap alternative, but the entertainment value heavily depends on understanding the Sichuan dialect.
- Shunxing's Address: Shawan Road, 258 International Exhibition Center Third Floor 沙湾路258号国际会展中心3楼 顺兴老茶馆
- Yuelai's Address: Jinjiang Area, Huaxingzheng Road, 54 inside Jinjiang Theater锦江区华兴正街54号锦江剧场内 悦来茶馆;(free opera performances Tuesdays; Saturdays, 14:00 – 16:00)
Other Popular Teahouses
Heming Tea House
Dabei Temple Tea House (it also serves as an impromptu gallery for art works and antiques – your chance to pick up a work from a coming Chinese master)
Wenshu Monastery Tea House;
Middle Renmin Road (located inside Wenshu Monastery, it is one of the least expensive tea houses in Chengdu – remember to take in the monastery if you pay a visit!)
Coffee shops are becoming increasingly popular in Chengdu, not surprising since China's – and Chengdu's – "nouveau riche" are increasingly emulating a Western lifestyle. There are a handful of Starbucks in Chengdu, and as many coffee shops of similar foreign brands. Chengdu also has its own non-chainstore coffee shop called The Coffee Beanery, located on the second floor of the Gaobang Department Store on Chunxi Road.