The relaxing ritual of tea ceremony after a day of sightseeing
When you go to a place like Beijing where there are tourist attractions so historically important that they make their way onto the Unesco World Heritage site list, you figure you ought to go see them. The problem is…so does everyone else. Unfortunately this can make what is supposed to be a refined cultural undertaking a bit frustrating – jostling tourists, endless lines, and after all that work, you feel a bit beaten and battered…and maybe not even in the best state of mind to fully appreciate the significance of the attraction that brought you there. This is what happened to us on a recent visit to the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. After hand-to-hand combat with a sea of international tourists, we longed for an escape. And so after making a surreptitious exit out of the East gate of the Forbidden Palace, we stumbled upon the Terrace Tea House, a quiet retreat from the chaos.
At the Terrace Tea House we were expertly led through the traditional Chinese tea ceremony by our host. After surveying the tea selection, elegantly presented on the back of a fan in both Mandarin and English, we chose a Jasmine tea for two after a little coaching from our host (120 RMB / $17.58 USD / $S 25.66).
As the Jasmine tea unfurled its delicate floral goodness in the gaiwan (a lidded cup for brewing), we were surprised and delighted by the color-changing frog. As water poured from vessel to vessel, the temperature sensitive frog was splashed with hot water and migrated in color from green to golden. As we sat sipping tea out of our miniature tasting cups we laughed a bit about umbrella wielding tourists (not because it was raining, but rather the Asian practice of shielding one’s skin from the sun) and our trip overall. And a few minutes later the ritual’s relaxing effect enabled us to head out again – refreshed and calmed.
If you do find yourself at the Terrace Tea House, be sure to stop by its neighbour, Celadon Story. Celadon Story has a wonderful selection of elegant celadon ceramic pieces for the home. The graceful lines and the soothing icy, jade green colour of celadon will likely tempt you in to taking a piece or two home.
Terrace Tea House
69 Donghuamen Daije
Telephone: +86 10 6525 9595
49 Donghuamen Street
Telephone: +86 10 6512 5071