Huxinting Teahouse, the Oldest Teahouse of historic Shanghai is situated in the heart of the city across the Yuyuan Gardens. This old teahouse is a big pavilion in the middle of a small lake originally built in 1784 in the Qing Dynasty.
It is situated in a very popular part of Shanghai filled with small shops and teahouses teeming with people. The Old Teahouse was the perfect place for Mom and I to relax and escape the heat and the hoards of people outside.
Tea and China are synonymous. They go hand in hand, much like bread and butter or wine and cheese. For more than 4,000 years, tea has been a major part of the Chinese heritage. During the Tang Dynasty, tea was considered the “Drink of the Nation.” I couldn’t wait to actually get to drink some beautiful and fragrant Chinese flower tea while sitting in this lovely teahouse. This was one of the top things on my list of things to do in China.
The ornate exterior is nicely matched by the brightly decorative interior and created a very peaceful ambiance in which we could relax and enjoy a fragrant cup of Chinese tea. Lacquered wood surfaces stretched all around the teahouse, and framed prints adorned virtually all wall and ceiling spaces. The teahouse was filled with red lanterns and tons of natural light streaming in from the panoramic windows that circle the seating area. My mom and I chose a comfy booth next to the windows that offered great views of both the lake and the colorful procession of people outside.
Mom and I had a look through the huge selection of flowering teas and eventually decided on two flavours that intrigued us. The two fragrances we chose were: “National beauty and heavenly fragrance” and “Flowers blossom for riches”.
They brought the fragrant flowering tea in beautiful glass teapots and we got to watch the flower open up as it soaked up the hot water and released its fragrance.
Flowering tea or blooming tea consist each of a bundle of dried tea leaves wrapped around one or more dried flowers. These are made by binding tea leaves and flowers together into a bulb and are then set to dry. When steeped, the bundle expands and unfurls in a process that emulates a blooming flower, while the flowers inside emerge as the centerpiece.
It was very quiet inside so we stayed quite a while just soaking up the atmosphere and trying to work out what the snacks were that had accompanied our tea! The tea came with a selection of cute tea snacks which we think were quail eggs, tofu, and sticky tea cakes.
The tea was not cheap, but the experience alone was worth it. The Old Teahouse definitely figures prominently in the pleasant memories I have of this amazing city.