Tea Ceremony in Beijing

By Viator, August 2015

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You may have heard of China's Silk Road, but its less famous yet equally important cousin is the Tea Horse Trail. Tea has played a fundamental part of day to day life in China dating back thousands of years. Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian philosophies are all tied to tea drinking in some way, and you'd often find scholars, educated youth and society elites engaged in debate over a pot of tea. Today, nearly every home and office will have a tea set on hand.

Unless you're invited into a private home, you'll need to visit one of Beijing's teahouses to experience the subtle ceremony surrounding the drinking of tea. For China first-timers, the regionally famous Laoshe Teahouse combines a tea ceremony with acrobatics, Beijing opera and magic performances. For those who simply want to learn more about tea without all the bells and whistles, pop in to any tea store you see along the streets (there are many of them). While shop workers won't always speak English, they'll happily sit at the tea table with you and pour you tea in the traditional fashion.

A few words on etiquette: drink your little cup of tea in one go as opposed to sipping, and pour the remaining drops onto the tray so they won't interfere with the flavor of the next round. If you're in the middle of conversation when your cup is filled, tap your index and middle fingers of your right hand on the table in front of you to express your thanks.

Be very wary of seemingly kind individuals who approach you in the streets, particularly around tourist destinations, offering to take you to a tea ceremony. This is a well-known scam where visitors get overcharged in the hundreds of dollars.

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