Wednesday, February 15, 2006

the teahouse trend in china

Here's an item on the trend in teahouses in China:

The interesting thing here though is that the just lump all teahouses into one generalization, which is not the case. There is the "chayi guan", or "tea art teahouse", a style of teahouse finely decorated, with pretty girls in pretty costumes who give tea art performance - which is to say, they brew gong fu tea. You pay for a private room, and see tea performance, drink the tea, and have light snacks like dried fruit and melon seeds. It's a very refreshing place to go after a hectic day. And that's why people go there - to take a break and relax. But it's expensive. It costs about 250 yuan. That's more than $30 US for an hour or so of relaxation.

Ordinary Chinese, whose salaries are 1000 yuan (about $125 US) or less can't afford to go there. But the middle class in China is growing too, so more people are able to afford an occasional visit.

The girls that work there go to a special school to learn tea art. And they can earn a salary of 1000 yuan a month or more - which is pretty good. A school teacher in china earns 1000 yuan a month.

Lately I have been reading a lot on teahouses in China. They first appeared in the Tang Dynasty. Even in Lu Yu's day, there were already simple teahouses. And their style continually changed over time. Song dynasty teahouses evolved into a more refined form from those of the Tang - gathering places where the literati would go to try new teas (the teas of different areas brewed with spring water of different areas), compose and recite poetry, play music, and look at scroll paintings.

Today, there are many many different styles of teahouse in China. And that article is correct; since the 1990s, teahouses are becoming more and more popular in China.

-- Warren Peltier

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