Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tea Houses

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        The tea house, a place set aside for people to enjoy tea and rest their feet, is a distinctively Chinese feature. How did it become so popular? During the Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, it was common for people to engage in idle conversation. At first, they drank and chatted at home. They then moved on to more specialized locations – tea huts. The huts served tea and provided lodging, and were forerunners of tea houses. During the 8th century AD, shops specially for selling tea started appearing in some cities. These shops eventually evolved into tea houses during the Song Dynasty. During the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, folk arts such as ballad singing, cross talks and story- telling were born. These performances often took place in tea houses, which became a gathering place for the literati and aristocrats.

        During the Ming Dynasty, tea houses could be found in every corner of the city. Each tea house had its own book narrator, who would recite literary or historical classics such as The Water Margin, The Romance of The Three Kingdoms, The Legend of Yue Fei, and The Cases of Justice Shi. Today, tea houses in China are still meeting places for the public, and a venue for discussing business and entertaining clients. Musicians and storytellers are sometimes present to provide entertainment.

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