Lunar New Year Celebrations Brew up at Chengdu Tea Houses
Xinhua, January 26, 2012
Dumplings are usually the centerpieces on tables during China's Spring Festival. But in the city of Chengdu, tea -- perhaps the best-known Chinese drink -- is as important as any foodstuff at this time of year.
In the capital city of southwest Sichuan Province, tea houses bustle everywhere and all the time. The venues are viewed as the place for leisure, meetings or business talks. People here frequent tea houses, even during the Spring Festival, ordinarily held as a time for family reunions at home.
Residents in Chengdu have maintained a passion for tea, despite the fact that more and more Chinese have embraced imported drinks such as coffee and cola.
During the Lunar New Year holiday, both indoor and outdoor tea houses dotted around the city have seen as many visitors as usual.
Unlike people in the north, who the cold weather has mostly confined indoors, to pass the holiday by watching TV and making dumplings, residents in moist and cloudy Chengdu prefer an outing at tea houses, be it with families or friends.
"Chengdu is definitely the best place under heaven when it comes to the life of ease," says Zhuang, who now spends every afternoon drinking tea and chatting with business associates and friends at a well-established tea house in the park.
Going to tea houses has become a routine for advertising company owner Zhang Bin, where he regularly secures deals after talks with prospective clients while sipping tea. "People feel cozy, relaxed and close to each other in a tea house; that makes everything go well," he says. From time to time, Zhang also leaves his office to get fresh ideas for advertisements at tea houses, where he also finds it productive to spend time alone.
During the holiday, people have more time to linger at tea houses, which serve as social places to help visitors get useful information and expand their circles of friends.
In addition to being an indispensable part of local people's lives, tea houses in Chengdu have also been labeled a symbol of the city.
Among the must-visit destinations, two famed ancient alleys crowded with tea houses have been recommended to most tourists, along with embroidery shops and panda zoos.
Residents in the alleys in question say the tea houses have connected them with the outside world, with tourists making the pilgrimage to these traditional local businesses to taste something in the teacup which they will treasure for a long time.
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