Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jin Yuan Tea House

I'm headed back to Shanghai for this update, to the cozy confines of a teahouse near my apartment in the Jing'an Temple area. It's a two-story teahouse on the corner of Beijing Lu and Wanhangdu Lu. Recently I've been going a lot, it's a casual environment and a convenient place to meet people. With the couches and the cushioned chairs, it feels something like a communal living room.

This is flower tea, the red bits add a bitter flavor. It's probably my favorite of the teas I've had there. I also like how it comes with a special ceramic pot-holder, there's a candle underneath keeping the tea warm:

I'm no tea expert, but I drink my fair share, I'll splurge on the more expensive teas at times. Still I think the tea here is consistently some of the best I've had. It's a little on the expensive side, compared to the other places I've been - a pot goes for three to five dollars. Like other tea houses, the tea is served with the leaves or ingredients left intact. Then, the waitress either gives a mug of boiling hot water to add, or she'll come around periodicially to refill the water for you. I think it just depends how energetic the waitress is feeling at the moment. Actual tea (as in tea-leaf tea) comes in a less photogenic china pot, but here's another picture. It's some Ginger tea, the pot is stuffed full of fruits, ginger, and other unidentifiable things I assume are ingredients. In the background is a large thermos of hot water, along with a milk tea.

These photos were taken when there weren't many other customers around. It can get busy, and I'll admit the other customers can bug me sometimes. Mostly, I'm going to study lingo, maybe to enjoy the delicate flavors of flower&bitter-stuff tea, and the people around me will be puffing down on cigarettes! Yuck. It's busiest around meal times. They have food that strikes me as pretty average and more of an after-thought to the tea, but it gets a fair crowd coming in. When it's too busy, sometimes I'll retreat to the upstairs. It gives a nice view of a busy but unspectacular intersection:

Maybe talking about my frequent visits to a teahouse in Shanghai makes it sound like I've gone super local-style. But honestly, there's not all that many teahouses in Shanghai. On the other hand, the area has one cafe after another cafe, it's like being back in San Francisco!

Update 11/4/2008 - This place (along with many of the shops nearby) has been knocked down and re-located to the boring Pudong district.

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