Teahouses can be found all over China, reflecting the importance of tea in Chinese culture. Tea drinking gained popularity in the Song Dynasty and before long, teahouses outnumbered restaurants in China. Often decorated with exquisite calligraphy, paintings and rare plants in order to attract clientele, teahouses prospered during the Ming and Qing dynasties and became an essential daily ritual for many Chinese people.
Teahouses remain popular places to socialize, relax and take time out while savoring the taste and aroma of a variety of teas. There are an overwhelming number of different teas available in China. Choose from an extensive menu of green, white, scented, black or Wulong tea in almost any teahouse.
Tea pouring and tasting is an art form that takes on a meditative quality. Emphasis is placed on the color, fragrance and flavor of the tea as well as the quality of the water and the tea set. Tea is never sipped after first being poured but instead tipped back into the pot in order to warm the cup and allow a further immersion of flavors.
Tea drinking is also viewed as a spiritual activity among the Chinese. The qualities of tea are believed to embody the best qualities in an individual and the savoring of tea is an opportunity to contemplate and reflect.
The best way to experience the importance of tea in Chinese culture is to visit a local teahouse and try some for yourself!