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Six sips in Beijing.

The following piece is an excerpt from Templar Teas’ reports around the world.  The author Jeff Fuchs is a writer, photographer, and expert of the Ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Road.

six sips in beijing

Beijing and its heaving dense world of sprawling space is losing much of what the previous generation calls the ‘culture of vital fluid’ – the culture of ‘tea’. Fewer and fewer tea shops – once abundant in the alleys and upon the great roads – are to be found which makes uncovering them something for me like discovering a gift. By a sad extension of this, the uncovering of good tea itself also becomes fleeting.

In the smallest recesses one can find the odd ‘cha dien’, tea stores that still cater to locals – less glitz but more substance, as the old saying goes. Barely lit at times, one enters an informal sanctum of tea in all of its desiccated forms. Apart from the huge tea market of Ma Lian Dao in the southwest of the city which is an entire urban landscape dedicated to selling tea, it is the small traditional tea houses that truly represent a passing moment in time.

One such shop in the massive Chaoyang district near the ever-expanding Liang Ma Qiao road in northeastern Beijing, needs luck or a friendly finger pointing the way to find it. Barely three meters wide and perhaps five deep the walls are lined with canisters, cakes, urns, bricks and errant tealeaves – a comfortable anarchy of tea resides here that warms the being with sips to come.

There are no hints or aromas here – it is nothing less than being consumed with tea’s wafting fragrances. It is in these tiny temples of tea that one feels close to tea in its primal and very Asian form: it is something that occupies, fascinates and feeds. In its silence it reminds that tea is also treated as an almost honored friend. Unfortunately for most travelers in the unrelenting need for convenience, it is the tourist shops that trumpet teas that are little more than cosmetic masterpieces, with little substance that will get the attention.


Photo by Tea Templar.  To read the full post, click here.

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